National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and recognizes the vital contributions and rich culture of Hispanic Americans.
In line with this year’s theme, “Unidos — Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,” Team Wright-Patt is celebrating Hispanic American personnel who display strength through support.
Meet Senior Airman Hilda Taleno, a financial operation technician with the 88th Comptroller Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. She specializes in deployment entitlements and vouchers, providing support for 88th Air Base Wing’s active duty and 445th Airlift Wing’s reserve and guard members.
Being of Honduran and Nicaraguan descent, Taleno shares what the theme means to her.
“It shows how much the Air Force has advanced in its inclusion of all Airmen,” she said. “It gives us the chance to learn about all kinds of cultures and traditions which in turns helps us understand and love our wingmen even more.”
Hispanic Americans have made several contributions to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. One individual that Taleno admires is former professional baseball player, Roberto Clemente.
“He was not only a good player, but a good Samaritan,” she said.
Clemente made his major league debut April 1, 1955, and spent his entire career with he Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1966 he was named the National League Most Valuable Player. Five years later, Clemente became the first Hispanic to win a World Series as a starting player. Following his untimely death, Clemente was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.
Beyond baseball, Clemente was known for his cultural pride and philanthropy. In the off-season he held baseball clinics for young players in Puerto Rico.
“Always, they said Babe Ruth was the best there was. They said you’d really have to be something to be like Babe Ruth. But Babe Ruth was an American player. What we needed was a Puerto Rican player they could say that about, someone to look up to and try to equal.” – Roberto Clemente, National League Most Valuable Player, 1966.
The observance month coincides with important dates in many Hispanic communities. Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Taleno reflects on her family and home country traditions during Semana Santa (Holy Week), which leads up to Easter.
“My family hosts a prayer night in which we get together and read a scripture as well as eat food like tamales and soups – we do not eat meat on the Friday that week. They give out small gifts like rosaries and bracelets,” she said.
“In Honduras they decorate the city,” Taleno said. “Everyone gets together to decorate the pavement with rugs for the upcoming Good Friday.”
A significant number of Hispanic Americans have served in all the nation’s wars beginning with the Revolutionary War. Airman Taleno has pride in her heritage and in being a part of the Air Force.
“Having a team to celebrate and show your culture helps make being so far from home easier. It shows no matter how far from home, we are not alone. “Unidos” is truly how we make the Air Force not just the greatest branch, but the greatest force in the world!”