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Ellsworth "embraces the fierce urgency of now"

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Senior Airman Nat Perez, 28th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, says he gains strength from his cultural heritage. Airman Perez is one of approximately 1.1 million military members who identify themselves as Hispanic.
As of 2009, Hispanics represented approximately 9 percent of all active duty Air Force personnel. Ellsworth will recognize the achievements of Hispanic Americans through Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Hispanic Heritage Month, the period from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15, celebrates the culture and traditions of Hispanic Americans, as well as their contributions to the United States. 

The theme for the 2009 Hispanic Heritage Month is "embracing the fierce urgency of now," which was adopted from the famous "I have a dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (see editor's note) 

As of July 2008 the U.S. Census Bureau calculated Hispanics constituted 15 percent of the Nation's total population, making it the largest ethnic or race minority group. 

"They are lawyers, doctors, world-class athletes and talented entertainers," said Master Sgt. Diane Ramirez, 28th Medical Group NCO-in charge. "Not to mention the many Hispanics who are making their mark in life by fighting for our country in all branches of the military." 

Airman Perez is glad to see Hispanics join the military and rise to positions of leadership. 

"I was the only Hispanic in my Basic Military Training flight," said Airman Perez. "Since coming into the operational Air Force I've seen a growing trend of Hispanics join the military." 

Hispanic Heritage Month lasts for 30 days and marks the anniversary of independence for seven Latin American countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, said Sergeant Ramirez. 

It shows us that the struggle for racial equality is still an ongoing battle; which is why the Air Force joins men and women together from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to embrace the "fierce urgency of now," Sergeant Ramirez said. 

Ellsworth supports Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of events taking place throughout the month, said Sergeant Ramirez. It's a chance to reflect on past and future achievements by Hispanics. 

Hispanic food tasting and exhibits are scheduled for Sept. 16 at the Base Exchange from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Oct. 2 a Latin Dance will be held at the Dakota's Club from 8 p.m. to midnight. 

The month-long celebration concludes with a Hispanic Heritage Luncheon at the Dakota's Club, Oct. 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1p.m. 

For more information, contact Sergeant Ramirez at (605) 385-3332. 

Editor's Note
- an excerpt from Dr. King's August 28, 1963 "I have a dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 

"We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand's of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."