I consider myself a Latin American woman, because my heritage is Latino, and I had the good fortune to be born in the Americas.

When I talk about my heritage, I mean everything that term implies, the rich language derived from Latin, which some call Castellano, Spanish and in some cases Spanglish.

I'm also referring to the grand culinary traditions that we inherited from our ancestors, in all their variations, from our mixed races, that are also reflected in the gamut of skin colors of all our Latino brothers and sisters who come in every shade possible, from the most intense darkness with black eyes to the palest blond with eyes of green and blue and everything in between.

When I remember my childhood, I remember my playmates, those with whom I shared my hopes and dreams, all those that awakened in me so early and were nurtured and guided in this country that believes that everything is possible, where the smallest man or woman can bring about change.

I also remember the music of my childhood - salsa, merengue, cumbia, mariachi. I am proud of the customs and traditions I inherited from my ancestors, but above all I am very proud when I see at the top of a flag pole the Mexican flag waving and our people singing our glorious national anthem, one of the most beautiful in the world.

Finally, regardless of the land in which we were born, whether we are American by birth, naturalization or adoption, we are all Americans.

Let us be proud of who we are, acknowledging where we came from but above all where we are going.

We cannot let the American Dream die within us. We have to instill in our children that desire to rise above that brought our parents and ourselves to this country and keeps us seeing with the eyes of a child who wants to learn and experience something new every day.

- Dora Perez, Denver