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Arabian Gulf - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a ceremony on the ship's mess decks, Monday.

The ceremony focused on the rich heritage and cultural diversity that Hispanic Americans have contributed to naval history.

"We are the most diverse Navy in the world, in history," said Chief Culinary Specialist Lucio Diaz, from San Antonio. "Many Sailors don't know what Hispanic Sailors have done for the Navy. The crew doing this observance brings all those good things to light."

The Navy, along with the nation, observes Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. The observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, it was expanded by President Ronald Reagan to cover a 30-day period, paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. The unique dates of this heritage month were chosen to encompass independence day anniversaries for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.

"It's great for all Sailors to be reminded of what different cultures contribute so we can keep appreciating diversity within our ranks," said Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Randy Castillo, from Brooklyn, New York. "Hispanic Sailors have been around the Navy for a long time."

Today, 17 percent of the Navy's enlisted force identifies as Hispanic American, while 8 percent of the officer force and 4 percent of all admirals identify as the same.

"There are Hispanics serving in every capacity of the Navy today," said Diaz. "There are Hispanics as high up as admirals, and there is a young Hispanic, right now, beginning their career at boot camp, ready to continue carving out the rich history of Hispanics serving in the U.S. Navy."

The ceremony concluded with a special meal composed of traditional Hispanic dishes prepared by more than 30 Sailors, from all rates and ages. The Sailors all drew on their experience with cooking Hispanic dishes to deliver a memorable dinner.

"Cooking this meal and educating others over my heritage has been a great experience," said Diaz. "While the Sailors were cooking the meals, I'm sure their minds were back home with their families. I am all about family and this observance is showing what family really means aboard Kidd."

ALNAV 006/17 encourages participation in all the heritage celebrations and special observances throughout the year. This year, Navy commands are encouraged to celebrate and reflect on the theme "Shaping the Bright Future of America."

"With each of these observances, we must remember our diversity and the history alongside it every day," said Cmdr. Mike Williams, commanding officer of Kidd. "Don't forget to recognize what your fellow Sailors do every day."

Kidd is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.