Irmara Torres-Cruz is one of 340 Hispanics who work or serve at Keesler Air Force Base. She works in the Child Development Center. Torres-Cruz said "I'm learning a lot with the kids. It's so funny, because whenever I don't know how to say in English, the kids correct me".
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Michael Montelongo says Hispanics like Torres-Cruz make many contributions to the military. Montelongo said "The military and civilian contributions of Hispanic-Americans reflect a deep principal of commitment to freedom and democracy, from the American Revolution to our latest conflict, Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. Hispanic-Americans have risked and sacrificed their lives to defend freedom".
Montelongo served as speaker at the Hispanic-American Heritage Luncheon at Keesler. He encouraged Hispanics to prepare for any opportunities that may arise and go after them.
Montelongo said "Many Hispanic-Americans, I will tell you and you know this, have been drawn to the military service for that very reason, to seek opportunities, education, growth, advancement, skills and professional success".
Montelongo also says more Hispanics are choosing to serve. Many Hispanics agree that diversity makes the military stronger. Belinda Lyons said "We bring so many different ideas and methods of thinking to the table. If we can have different, not just Hispanic races, but every kind of race, we'd have different ways of looking at things for the future".
To continue the Hispanic Heritage Celebration, Keesler will host a Food Sampling Luncheon next Thursday at the Community Center on base. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.