LRMC celebrates Hispanic Heritage

Story and photo by Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

***image1***Hispanic Heritage 2007 means the same as it has in previous years to
Master Sgt. Jorge Lopez. He hopes Hispanics are not the only ones who use the commemorative period to plug into their culture and past.

As Landstuhl Regional Medical Center prepares for a Thursday event in the post’s gymnasium, Master Sergeant Lopez − of Mexican-American decent – is reflective of family and friends living below the U.S. border in places like Matamoros, Veracruz and elsewhere.

“My grandparents were from Monterrey, Mexico, and I’ve visited there several times,” Master Sergeant Lopez said. “The word ‘Hispanic’ is not derogatory but it’s really important, I think, to understand one’s exact heritage. It’s Mexican or Panamian, whatever or wherever. It’s important for people to understand their roots.”

Master Sergeant Lopez is the NCOIC of the Landstuhl Department of Pathology. Now at the end of a two-year LRMC stay, he oversees and interacts with all nonnterreycommissioned officers in the hospital’s core laboratory, transfusion services and blood drives.

“I was raised in a little place called Weslaco, Texas,  down in the Rio Grande Valley in deep, south Texas,” Master Sergeant Lopez said. “The population was about 85 percent Hispanic when I lived there and could be more than that now.”

Master Sergeant Lopez has always had Hispanic people he’s looked up to, but people of other races, too. He said much can be learned when cultures share historical information.

“You could take a little from every culture and better yourself,” Master Sergeant Lopez said. “A guest speaker could be from any background and still make an impact. A cultural celebration such as Hispanic Heritage can be a place for non-Hispanics to attend and find some common ground.”

The LRMC event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in the gymnasium and will feature a folkloric ballet troupe, dance group from Landstuhl Middle School and guest speakers. The keynote address will be given by retired Maj. Gen. Alfred Valenzuela, whose last duty post was as deputy commander in chief at the U.S. Southern Command.

Complimentary food will be provided by a local Mexican restaurant, said Capt. Alisha Hutson, commander of Alpha Company which is sponsoring the event.