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Celebrate Hispanic heritage

  • Published
  • By Capt. Sofia Ciro
  • 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron Operations Officer
Reflecting on Hispanic heritage is personal in nature. I came to the United States from Colombia when I was 14 years old. I grew up in Miami, a city visited by people from all over the world, but highly populated by Hispanics.

Most of my high school friends spoke Spanish and were born abroad in various Latin American countries. We shared similar taste in music: salsa, merengue, and bachata, to name a few.

I remember going to their houses for dinner and tasting traditional cuisine from many places: Peru (ceviche), Ecuador (fanesca), Chile (caldillo de congrio--fish dish), Cuba (ropa vieja--seasoned shredded steak), Dominican Republic (plantain and cheese), Honduras (conch soup), and El Salvador (pupusas). I even tasted foods from other regions in Colombia I had never tasted before.

I also remember helping each other overcome many challenges. One in particular was to learn to speak English and avoid speaking "Spanglish."

Although we had much in common, we were also different in many ways. For example, we celebrated Christmas with different traditions. In Mexico they have an event called "Posadas." It re-enacts the night in which Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to stay in the town of Bethlehem. It was the same night that Jesus Christ was born.

I remember when one of my friends invited me to participate in a Posada he organized in his neighborhood. I walked from house to house with a group of friends and family. We then gathered around the nativity scene and prayed giving thanks for all the blessings we had received.

This was an experience different than what I was used to. In Colombia we have different Christmas traditions. One in particular is lighting candles or "faroles" outside of houses at the stroke of midnight on the seventh of December. This tradition represents the start of the Christmas season.

I have great memories of those days, not only because of the music and the food, but most importantly, because we shared a culture, a language, and had a personal connection with each other.

We were proud of our Hispanic heritage. We were happy to live in a place where we shared our own traditions and values, and embraced new ones.

When I reflect on Hispanic heritage, I think of my high school friends. Those kids I grew up with became doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, fathers and mothers. We grew up with the best of two worlds. We are Hispanos in America!

Together we are building tomorrow's nation and our actions serve as a cornerstone to build the Hispanic heritage of the 21st Century.

We celebrate our Hispanic heritage by volunteering in our communities, by promoting diversity, and by leading as Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen.
I am very proud of the contributions of my generation, and I invite future generations to embrace the tradition to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.