During the month-long celebration, the country recognizes the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the U.S., while the Hispanic population honors its heritage and culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month’s roots go back to 1968, when it began under President Lyndon Johnson before being expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. The date of Sept. 15 was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Other countries celebrating their liberation during this time span are Mexico (Sept. 16, not May 5), Chile (Sept. 18) and Belize (Sept. 21). It also includes Columbus Day (Oct. 12 aka Dia de La Raza).
Historically, Hispanics have left a centuries-old imprint on the fabric of the United States, easily predating the Revolutionary War.
Texas was a Spanish province that, while under control of the French, Spanish, Mexicans and eventually the United States, has always proudly retained its Hispanic heritage be it in the states’ food, music or culture. And let us not forget the fortress of St. Augustine, FL, the first continuous European settlement in North America, founded in 1565, 42 years before the English landed in Jamestown, VA.
According to the Pew Research Center, the Hispanic population reached a new high of 55.4 million in 2014 (or 17.4 percent of the total U.S. population). This is a significant uptick from the 35.3 million or 13 percent of the total U.S. population that was registered during the 2000 census.
While Hispanics share a common language, they are not a monolithic culture with dialects, traditions and music varying from country to country. There is no denying the contributions they’ve made to American culture, be it in politics, sports, art, music and media. What all Hispanics do have in common is, similar to other groups, they have come to the United States seeking faith, family, hard work and love of country while still proudly embracing their own traditions and culture.