Feature Stories

NEWS | Oct. 13, 2017

Observance celebrates Hispanic dance, food, culture

By Spc. Joseph Black U.S. Army Central

Soldiers stationed on Camp Arifjan participated in an observance at the Zone 1 Chapel here on October 13 in support of Hispanic Heritage Month where service members celebrated the history, culture and contributions of Hispanic Americans both past and present.

The event featured a guest speaker, poetry and dance demonstrations and ended with a food tasting of Hispanic dishes, said Sgt. Jamie Reed, a respiratory therapist, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Camp Arifjan.

“We have representation from multiple countries and backgrounds, and it’s a way to bring everyone together to sort of celebrate the Hispanic part of us,” said Reed, a second-generation Mexican American and performer for the observance.

Dances from Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico and more were celebrated in the ceremony with performances of tango, bachata, cumbia and merengue.

Army Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Martinez Bernard, a native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, and the Director of Logistics, Area Support Group- Kuwait, spoke to guests about the importance of culture and of his Puerto Rican heritage.

“At the end of the day it’s about diversity,” said Martinez. “We operate in a global environment. People of different ethnicities provide a different perspective.”

For service members like Pvt. Jose Ortiz-Carrasquillo, a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, and spectator for this observance, Hispanic Heritage Month brings a piece of home to the deserts of Kuwait.

“Being in Kuwait, we don’t have a lot,” said Ortiz-Carrasquillo, a food inspector with Area Support Group – Kuwait. “We’re pretty far from Puerto Rico. Of course my mom isn’t here, so I can’t have Puerto Rican food. For us, food plays a big part.”

As Soldiers filed into the busy Morale, Recreation and Welfare building, the scent of Hispanic food filled the air and people met and discussed their heritage over a meal.

“Look out for each other,” said Martinez to other Hispanic service members. “We share the same culture and cultural values. Looking out for each other definitely helps [Soldiers] get along on a day-to-day basis. That includes going dancing on salsa nights or having a great dinner.”