Peleliu Celebrates Hispanic American Heritage Month 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dustin Knight, USS Peleliu Public Affairs  
USS PELELIU, At Sea - Each year the Navy and Marine Corps join the rest of the country in observing Hispanic American Heritage Month from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.

Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) is holding a program Oct. 14 to expand its Sailors' and Marines' knowledge of Hispanic American Heritage Month. The Diversity Committee will highlight Peleliu Sailors and Marines of Hispanic cultures during the presentation.

"During the program individuals will speak to the crew about their country and culture," said Yeoman 2nd Class Christina Shell, Engineering Yeoman and a member of Peleliu's Diversity Committee team.

The Diversity Committee is increasing awareness by advertising posters around the ship and posting notes in the plan of the day highlighting significant contributions Hispanics have made to the Navy.

Additionally, during the program, there will be a salsa dancing demonstration. Salsa is one of the many traditional cultural dances made popular by the Hispanic community.

"We have been holding Salsa classes each week for those interested in learning the dance," Shell said. "I have been participating myself and will be in the demonstration."

Hispanic American Heritage Month recognizes those American citizens whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America by celebrating their histories, cultures and contributions to the United States.

"I'm very proud to serve in the Navy and take part in the celebration of the Hispanic American Heritage Month," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Marcos Ortiz. "As a Sailor of Puerto Rican ethnicity, I take pleasure in the opportunity that I had to serve as a hospital corpsman and customer service coordinator at Naval Hospital Roosevelt Roads Puerto Rico in 2003 while it was closing down. Being bilingual was critical to communication, treatment, and medication dispensing. Due to staff shortages this became a very demanding, yet, very rewarding experience to be able to provide a service for retirees, dependents, and locals."

This year's theme, "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today," emphasizes the positive changes and affects that Hispanic Americans, past, present and future, have in shaping our country.

"It's an honor to serve with other Hispanics from diverse backgrounds and be recognized for our contributions in America and in the Navy," said Ortiz.

Peleliu has more than 240 Sailors and officers of Hispanic decent.

The U.S. Navy employs over 58,000 Hispanic Sailors and officers. Hispanic American Heritage observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson and was extended to the current 30-day period in 1988 when it was enacted into law on August 17 from President Ronald Reagan.

Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and is currently underway on a Western Pacific deployment with amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
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