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Base celebrates America's diversity

The Gypsy Rhythm Dancers of Panama City perform the Gypsy Rumba (name of dance) in front of a packed Club Ballroom at Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct. 2.  Three dancers are NCOs who work on base but perform with the group locally during their off time.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttitia)

The Gypsy Rhythm Dancers of Panama City perform the Gypsy Rumba (name of dance) in front of a packed Club Ballroom at Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct. 2. Three dancers are NCOs who work on base but perform with the group locally during their off time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttitia)

Capt. Francisco Vega wins the Mexican grito contest at Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct.2.  Contest participants had to wear a sombrero and give their best "grito" which means "cry" or "scream"  in Spanish.  Online history stories say on the night of September 15, 1910, grito de independencia, the "cry of independence," was heard when Mexico became free.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

Capt. Francisco Vega wins the Mexican grito contest at Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct.2. Contest participants had to wear a sombrero and give their best "grito" which means "cry" or "scream" in Spanish. Online history stories say on the night of September 15, 1910, grito de independencia, the "cry of independence," was heard when Mexico became free. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

Staff Sgt. Vanessa Goris belts out the tune of " " during the Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct.2 as the featured singing performance. She is assigned to the 325th Aerospace Medical Squadron as an aerospace physiological technician.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

Staff Sgt. Vanessa Goris belts out the tune of " " during the Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Oct.2 as the featured singing performance. She is assigned to the 325th Aerospace Medical Squadron as an aerospace physiological technician. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Its not everyday you get to go to the restaurant and hand them mom's recipes so you can enjoy her cooking away from home but Oct. 2 was just that kind of special day at Tyndall's Club. 

The staff of professionals there were just one of the many pieces of the puzzle in getting an authentic Spanish flare for Tyndall's Hispanic Heritage Committee's annual luncheon honoring the national heritage month. 

Every year from mid-September to mid-October the President of the United States declares Hispanic Heritage month to honor Hispanic American contributions to the nation and celebrate the rich cultural traditions of our Hispanic-American community. 

That is exactly what the committee did by setting up the luncheon for the base populace. Hispanic military veterans were honored; Panama City's Gypsy Rhythm Dancers performed, traditional Spanish music was played and sung; tables were adorned accordingly and authentic Hispanic food was served. 

Diversity helps shape national character said guest speaker Chief Master Sgt. Jose Perez, 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit maintenance superintendent.
According to online resources, during this month America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. 

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. 

As the largest growing demographic in the U.S., it is no wonder Hispanic Americans make up 10 percent of the nations military.
Elimination of terrorism is a priority for all and the diverse group of men and women who serve are the linchpin in destroying this worse enemy of the world, said Chief Perez.
"The commitment to family and the devotion to faith and country make us strong," he said. 

Gen. Wolters, 325th Fighter Wing commander, echoed the chief's comments by saying the heritage event was in good timing regarding the importance of family in upcoming holidays. 

Hispanic influence made our nation powerful and we can't forget that, said the general.