The Hispanic Medal of Honor Society’s Legacy of Valor exhibit is on display at Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters this week as part of the agency’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Through photos and artifacts, the exhibit highlights the 60 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients of Hispanic descent, as well as Hispanic prisoners of war, astronauts and civic leaders.
“We have had more than our share of heroes. It’s a part of history we must not allow to be forgotten,” Rick Leal, president of the Hispanic Medal of Honor Society, said at an event at DIA Sept. 29.
The Legacy of Valor ceremony and exhibit are one of many events making up the agency’s month-long observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. Observed nationally from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the long and important presence of Hispanics and Latino Americans in the U.S.
The Hispanic Medal of Honor Society promotes the awareness of the patriotism, gratitude and loyalty which Hispanic Americans have for the U.S. The group is also committed to recognizing, and advocating for the recognition of, those who haven’t received the Medal of Honor yet, such as retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ramon Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was nominated in 1982 for the Medal of Honor for his acts of valor during the Vietnam War. He is one of the most decorated combat soldiers who served in Vietnam, receiving a total of 17 combat medals and awards to include three Silver Stars and five Purple Hearts.
Rodriguez participated in DIA’s event and helped Leal present the society’s Legacy of Valor Medal to four DIA leaders: Acting Director David Shedd; Americas Regional Center Director Ray Velez; Brig. Gen. William Welsh, military advisor for the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; and Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Arleen Heath. These individuals were recognized for fostering an environment of awareness of the history, culture and contributions of all Hispanics.
“Remembering makes us better servants,” Shedd said when discussing the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month and recalling his personal ties to the Latino community. Shedd spent much of his childhood and professional life living in South and Central America and developed a passion for strengthening U.S. relations with the people and nations in the region.