MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire Department is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a new t-shirt.
Carlos Velazquez-Sanchez, a veteran firefighter, has donned MFD uniforms and gear for more than a decade.
This month, he’s wearing something new: a shirt he designed himself after seeing Chief Aaron Lipski’s display of other culturally-themed department tees.
“I said that’s a very nice display, and his response was, ‘Would you like to make one for Hispanic Heritage Month?' And coming from Chief Lipski, I couldn’t say no. I was very honored,” Velazquez-Sanchez said.
On the shirt, the words: 'Bomberos,' or firefighters. 'Familia, cultura, herencia,' or family, culture and heritage.
The words, alongside flags from Spanish-speaking countries circling the department's logo, create a design inspired by bringing people together.
“I wanted to make something that people would feel proud of, and it was going to be a way to unite Milwaukee,” Velazquez-Sanchez said.
“The funds are going to two great organizations; I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Velazquez-Sanchez said.
City data shows Hispanics make up about 10 percent of the Milwaukee Fire Department. Meanwhile, census data shows Hispanics make up a greater number, about 19 percent, of Milwaukee's overall population.
Velazquez-Sanchez said he hopes kids seeing and wearing symbols of their heritage beside the department’s logo could even plant a seed for the diverse next generation of Milwaukee's heroes.
“Education, if we want to increase it. We just have to continue doing things like this,” he said.
You can order a shirt for yourself here.