Hispanic Heritage Month: A Legacy of History

Cadet 2nd Class Steven Luna (U.S. Air Force photo)

Cadet 2nd Class Steven Luna (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY. Colo. -- America is great for a vast number of reasons. Although we can point out many reasons why our country so remarkable, I say we owe our success largely to our diverse backgrounds and culture within our nation. This history of diversity has cast adaptability within our nation while forging the strength our country bears today.

The Defense Department, the Air Force and the Academy recognize that diversity is the key to success and this why we recognize Hispanic Heritage month Sept. 15-Oct.15, along with all our other special cultural observances.

The observation of Hispanic Heritage began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage week, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was later extended to 30 days by President Ronald Regan in 1988.

The theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month is, "A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success." This theme resonates with me personally because it encompasses my family's personal story, as well as the stories of many others of Hispanic origin here at the Academy.

Both my parents were born in Mexico and migrated to the U.S. as teenagers. My father, the oldest of eight children, would travel with my grandfather to work as a migrant during his summer breaks. My mother, the oldest of three children, would work all the hours she was able at a local convenience store. She would then give my grandparents her paycheck to keep a roof over their heads. Their strong work ethic is very humbling to me and continues to encourage me to chase my dreams.

Even to this day, my parents continue this legacy. My father retired as a senior master sergeant after 21 years of active duty service and my mother earned a variety of professional degrees in her profession.

"A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success" incorporates a presence of action, and this is where my Academy classmates and I currently reside. This foundation of humility is something we carry close as a constant reminder of how far we have come and how far we intend to go. Our diverse backgrounds are the fuel to continue to reach for our ambitions whether dealing with the challenge of Doolie year or the unfamiliarity of moving away from home. Our humble beginnings are what make us who we are today, individuals working hard through the past to become better for tomorrow.

This leads to the last clause of the theme "...a future of success." Our future continues to build on itself as more Hispanics pave roads to success for younger generations to follow. We want to proceed on our track of progression founded by our legacy of history. This legacy entangled with present actions allows for the future successes through the incorporation of diversity. It is the melting pot of cultures which allows for the differing thoughts and ideas to be present at the table of the U.S. The diversity for some is part of their heritage, their daily lives and for others a hopeful future, but for cadets it is our strength - an essential component to making our country the greatest nation on Earth.