The U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and the Fort Huachuca Military Equal Opportunity team hosted the Hispanic American Heritage Month observance Tuesday at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.
The keynote speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Manuel Sanchez, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, spoke of his Hispanic heritage and shared some of the history of his family. He spoke of the journey that his father and mother had made from Cuba to America after the Bay of Pigs incident. It was the site of an ill-fated invasion on April 17, 1961, when a force of 1,500 U.S.-trained guerrilla troops landed in an attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.
Sanchez also spoke of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Operation Peter Pan which led to his siblings and 14,000 other Cuban children being brought to the United States to escape Soviet labor camps.
Operation Peter Pan can share credit for today’s cultural diversity in America, according to Sanchez who discussed what this diversity means to the United States. “As we look through our history, we will find contributions through the arts, industry, medicine, agriculture and in the military that have made this nation the best in the world, and we are the strongest Army in the world.” Sanchez stated.
Dancers from Alma Dolores International Dance Centre out of Sierra Vista entertained the crowd with authentic Hispanic dances. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Col. Jeffrey Jennings, deputy commander, Training, USAICoE and Fort Huachuca, presented awards to Staff Sgt Candee Barris, mistress of ceremonies, Alma Dolores International Dance Centre and Sanchez.