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NEWS | Oct. 10, 2023

Army South celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed-Cox U.S. Army South Public Affairs

Music filled the air with Latin flavor. The aroma of tamales, Gallo pinto, and paella welcomed Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families to the U.S. Army South’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in front of the headquarters building at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, on Oct. 4, 2023.

National Hispanic Heritage Month covers a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. The day of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One.”

“The theme reflects the diversity inherent within the Hispanic community, as well as the strength that comes with unity,” said 1st Sgt. Emily Martinez, the master of ceremony for the event. “It reflects the imperative of inclusivity – valuing diversity of background unity of purpose.”

The guest speaker for the event was retired Brig. Gen. Dr. Irene Zoppi, who is the first Puerto Rican woman promoted to the rank of general in the U.S. Army Reserve. She spoke about what it meant to be a Latin American in the military and said she never set out to make history.

“Today, we celebrate the powerful unity, unwavering determination, and boundless prosperity that Hispanic Soldiers have brought to the Army and our great nation,” Zoppi said.

She went on to talk about what “Todos Somos, Somos Uno” means and how it is achieved.

“Somos uno means acknowledging that while we may have different stories, dreams, and aspirations, we are all interconnected,” she explained. “In a world that often emphasizes our differences and divisions, it is crucial to embrace this notion of unity and recognize the strength that lies within it.”

Zoppi jokingly gave the audience her recipe for overcoming the challenges they may face in a world marked by multi-generational challenges and uncertainty, “It is easy to feel isolated or overwhelmed. Unless you put some salsa.”

Brimming with pride, Zoppi ended her speech with a message about embracing the power of unity and synergy as Hispanics in America.

“We gather here not to only celebrate our heritage, but to ignite a flame of prosperity, power, and progress that will shape the future of our community and the destiny of this great nation.”