The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute recognized a Latina Marine for her strong leadership and dedication to country Sep. 7 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Representatives from the organization, a U.S.-Hispanic nonpartisan nonprofit, awarded Brig. Gen. Angela Salinas, commanding general, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Western Recruiting Region, the 2008 Latinas in Service Award.
"This year we honor the dedicated hard working Latina women, who have given back to our country through their military service, and I can tell you that I’ve met the brigadier general before," said U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, California’s 38th congressional district. “And she’s always been the epitome of a woman in charge, of a woman who really shines and is a perfect role model for those Latinas who feel that they cannot accomplish anything. She has done it, and done it beautifully and with honor."
This is the first time CHCI has awarded a service woman.
"For several years CHCI has been recognizing women who have stood at the core front in their chosen fields and careers, and this year the area was the women in service, serving in the armed forces, serving their country," said Esther Aguilera, president and CEO of CHCI.
All the speakers talked about how Salinas is an inspiring and influential woman. And the crowd, mostly Latinos and Latinas, cheered and clapped for the brigadier general.
"She’s the screen saver on my computer. And I will tell you why," said Robert E. Bard, president and CEO of “Latina Style” magazine and one of the speakers during the ceremony. "Gen. Salinas invited me to come to San Diego when she was taking command of the Marine Post there. I saw all the Latinos and Latinas that became part of her charge. It was truly one of the moments that the pride that we feel when one of us becomes stronger."
After the speakers finished, Aguilera handed the award to Salinas, who then addressed the crowd.
"Thank you all very much. I’m very honored. I’m a little bit overwhelmed; you can tell from my eyes," she said. "The best part is that the Marines that I have served with over the years, have said ‘we want to follow you because you will treat us with firmness and fairness with dignity, and always with compassion. I did not want to be a good Hispanic Marine or a good woman Marine; I just wanted to be a very good Marine."
Salinas ended her speech by motivating future Latina leaders.
"I have been very blessed. And I have had many firsts in my career, to include being the first Latina to be made a general officer, and the first woman to command the recruit depot in San Diego, an all male installation," she said. "But the one thing that I stand here with a great satisfaction is knowing ‘que no soy la … ultima’ – that I am not the last one."