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2011 Hispanic Heritage Opening Ceremony

2011 Hispanic Heritage Opening Ceremony

Many backgrounds, many stories, one American spirit
By Dave Palmer

LOS ANGELES — Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual observance, covers a 31-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The months of September and October are significant because they include independence days for five Latin American countries. The remembrance celebrates their rich cultures and many contributions to the United States.

This year’s opening ceremony for the Los Angeles District began with Chief of Contracting Danny Carrasco’s reading of the first paragraph of President Obama’s proclamation.

"From those who trace their roots to America’s earliest days to those who recently came to the United States carrying nothing but hope for a better life, Hispanics have always been integral to our national story. As an American family more than 300 million strong, we constitute one people, sharing sacrifice and prosperity because we know we rise and fall together. America is a richer and more vibrant country because of the contributions of Hispanics, and during National Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the immeasurable impact they have made on our Nation."

In his remarks, District Commander Col. Mark Toy commented on this year’s theme, "Many backgrounds, many stories, one American Spirit." "It really resonates with me, because in my mind, the quote shows the importance of teamwork and the power that ensues when teams come together to work towards any common goal," said Toy.

Toy introduced guest speaker Anna M. Park, executive director of Great Minds in STEM, who recounted her life’s journey from a diverse East Los Angeles to University of California Berkeley, completely new York City’s Columbia University and back to Los Angeles’ University of Southern California for her Juris Doctor degree.

Park has been with GMiS for 11 years. The organization established in 1989 as, Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation, has been providing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming for 23 years. GMiS provides STEM awareness programs for federal agencies, corporations, universities and school districts nationwide.

While confident in the continued relationship between the Corps and GMiS, Park did note the retirement of a STEM champion.

“Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp encouraged Corps volunteers to share their passion for STEM by engaging middle and high school students in their classrooms,” said Park. “Under his leadership the Corps more than lived up to its reputation as the premier public civil engineering and environmental science organization,” added Park.

Anna Park was such a wonderful speaker, a terrific role style for all of us in the district Toy added.

In further recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Los Angeles District, Hispanic Employment Special Emphasis Program Committee will feature a short film on Hispanic culture Oct. 4 and close out the remembrance with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Sylvia Mendez on Oct. 13.

(USACE photos by Richard Rivera)

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