Month-long celebration highlights Hispanic heritage Published Sept. 22, 2006 By 2nd Lt. Rachel Smith 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- McChord's Hispanic Heritage Committee launched its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with a kick-off event Sept. 15 at the base exchange.The event featured food, such as paella, horchata, mole and salsa, from Spanish-speaking countries around the world.Informational posters were also on display at the event to educate McChord about each Hispanic country.Second Lt. Teresa Moreno, 62nd Mission Support Group, who is presiding over this year's celebration committee, said the event was successful and had a good turnout."Everyone enjoyed the food and got something out of it," she said. "This was something we [the committee] have never done before and it turned out great," she said.This year's theme, "Hispanic Americans: Our rich culture contributing to America" is the message Lieutenant Moreno said she hopes this year's events will relay to observers and participants."This month is about promoting awareness of how Hispanic Americans have contributed to the success of America," she said. "Everything we're doing is about showing people who we are, where we come from and how we've made an impact here."In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, according to a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau.About 1.1 million Hispanics are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to the release, and Lieutenant Moreno said she believes the contributions of Hispanic Americans don't stop there."The Hispanic community has played and continues to play a role in the accomplishments of the United States," she said.The next events the Hispanic Heritage Committee will host are salsa dancing lessons at McChord's Clubs and Community Center.The lessons will take place every Thursday at 6 p.m. for the duration of the celebration, culminating in the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta at 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at McChord's Clubs and Community Center.