Food and family connects Airman to Hispanic heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The aromas of enchiladas, beans, rice and tortillas fill the kitchen as the whole family, including cousins, aunts and uncles, crowd in grandma’s house for an all-day event. Salsa music plays in the background as people dance and sing. The sounds of chatting echo from room to room as loved ones enjoy each other’s company, and of course, the food.

For Staff Sgt. Kayla Gonzalez, commander's support staff representative assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron, family get-togethers means lots of family and large amounts of food.

“My family is close-knit and family orientated,” explained Gonzalez. “Every time we get together, it’s like we are picking up where we left off, even if we haven’t talked to each other in months.”

Family and food are a part of her life, and it is also a connection to her Hispanic heritage.

“Being able to get together and have that fellowship gives our younger family members a chance to learn from our elders and keep the traditions going.”

Reflecting on her life and the time that has passed since she joined the military in 2010, Gonzalez said she has learned from her experiences and applies them daily as an Airman and in her personal life.

“My family has made me who I am today, and has impacted me as an Airman, mother and wife,” said Gonzalez. “They gave me love and support growing up, and they still do today, which has molded me so, I can give support and care to other people I work with and know.”

This year, Gonzalez is participating in Hispanic Heritage Month as a committee member planning events at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to help celebrate Hispanics and their contributions to the Air Force. She’s is excited to plan, and to learn about the different cultures.

“Although I am Mexican and Spaniard, I was born in the states,” said Gonzalez. “So this month allows me to learn about other cultures, and more of my own.”

During this month, there will be several events including a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration with music and food and a scheduled visit to Tinker Elementary School for a Spanish book reading.

"Our goal for the MacDill Community during Hispanic Heritage Month is to foster an understanding of our culture, heritage and traditions in our ever-changing diverse force," said Master Sgt. Melida Hernandez, the project officer and committee lead for Hispanic Heritage Month 2016.

This year’s theme is "Hispanic American: Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America." 

“I think it is important for MacDill to recognize and celebrate Hispanic heritage month because Hispanics are a big part of the community,” explained Gonzalez. “Just like other heritage months, it is important for us to be able to share our backgrounds.”

Hispanic Heritage Month gives Airmen an opportunity to celebrate diversity, and to learn about Hispanics around the base and the world.

“This month is a time to learn about the people and the background of the people you are working side by side with,” said Gonzalez.  “Diversity plays a key role in us working together to be one team.”