Story and photo by Spc. Robert Holland
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin A. Rivera’s fondest memories and the thing he misses most from his days in Caguas, Puerto Rico, is the tradition of parrandas.
“(Parrandas) is nothing more than your family going to another family member’s house with a bunch of musicians and singing typical Puerto Rican Christmas songs, while the owner of the house cooks a traditional feast,” said Rivera, senior enlisted leader, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “It is the Puerto Rican version of caroling.”
He credits his successful military career to his upbringing in Puerto Rico. The strong sense of family and duty that the Puerto Rican culture emphasizes was instilled in him, he said.
“My parents taught me, starting when I was a little kid, to take care of your brothers and sisters no matter what the circumstances are,” Rivera said. “That has been my philosophy throughout my whole Army career — to treat each one of my (Soldiers) like my own Family.”
Military service played a large role in shaping Rivera’s life growing up in Puerto Rico.
“My inspiration, and main influence why I joined the Army, was because my seven uncles had all served,” Rivera said. “They were veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.”
Rivera plans to celebrate his heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month by lending his musical talents to Fort Carson’s National Hispanic Heritage Celebration, at the Elkhorn Conference Center, Monday at 2:30 p.m.
“All my (Soldiers) are tracking the celebration at Elkhorn.” Rivera said. “Of course they are looking forward to make fun of their command sergeant major playing congas and singing salsa music.”
The celebration will not end there for Rivera. He is also planning to celebrate at home with his Family, by preparing a Puerto Rican feast in honor of his heritage, he said.
Rivera said his Hispanic heritage has benefited him in many ways, including learning English as a second language. He enjoys a successful career serving his country, and has made it to the highest enlisted grade a Soldier can attain.
Hispanic Heritage Month runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and the Army recognizes it as a time to highlight the achievements, contributions and the sacrifices Soldiers of Hispanic heritage have made defending the nation through their dedicated military service.