By Capt. Peter Drasutis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 through October 15. Started by the U.S. Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and later expanded to National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988, this observance serves to promote the history, culture and contributions of American citizens of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean and South American ancestry.
“I think it’s important to recognize the diversity in our ranks. Diversity in any organization makes it stronger. We are all Soldiers that wear the same uniform, but we are also people with cultural differences and that is okay. We still work together to get the mission done,” expressed Staff Sgt. Jessica Prestenbach, a human resource supervisor for the LANG when asked about what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her as a Soldier of Honduran descent.
Approximately 564 LANG service members identify as Hispanic. That breaks down to 4.38% of Louisiana Army National Guard Soldiers and 7.38% of Louisiana Air National Guard Airmen being of Hispanic lineage. These service members represent a wide spectrum of nationalities and make up the third largest represented ethnicity within the LANG.
“It means a lot to me that, for an entire month, we get to recognize several Hispanics currently serving our country. This also means a lot to my family to see Hispanics recognized,” said 1st Sgt. Sonia Armstrong, senior noncommissioned officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 415th Military Intelligence Battalion of the LANG’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month and the recognition of her as a Soldier of Mexican origin.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time that all Hispanics can come together and celebrate their heritage. I feel it is very important that, no matter where you go in life, you always remember where you come from and be proud of that,” said Pfc. Kevin Vazquez about the sense of solidarity that this observance evokes for him.
In fidelity with its official observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the LANG will be running a social media campaign, highlighting several of its Hispanic service members and their contributions to the organization throughout the month of celebration.