Hispanic Heritage Month: Embracing, Enriching, Enabling

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marsha Backes, 45th Space Wing Equal Opportunity Observer

Each year, the Department of Defense observes and celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.  


The observance month is designated to celebrate the cultures and heritages, and honor the invaluable contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.


National Hispanic Heritage Month sheds light on the Hispanic culture and the many achievements that have helped strengthened our country.


The observation began in 1968, as Hispanic Heritage Week under former President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, it was enacted into law and expanded by former President Ronald W. Reagan, which was then extended to a full 30 days.


This month is significant in the Hispanic culture, considering the several anniversaries of independence. Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate Sept. 15, as their Independence Day. Sept. 16 and 18 are the anniversary of independence for Mexico and Chile. Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, also known as Columbus Day, falls within this 30-day period, as well.


There are many Hispanic American accomplishments, endeavors and triumphs in history from over the last several decades, to include military history.


For example, in 1964, Horacio Rivero Jr., became the first Puerto Rican and Hispanic four-star admiral, and the second Hispanic to become a full admiral in the modern U.S. Navy. He also served as ambassador to Spain from 1972 to 1974.


Additionally, in 2014, President Barack H. Obama, awarded the Medal of Honor to 24-eligible Army veterans who were previously withdrawn from receiving this award due to their mostly Hispanic or Jewish heritage.


Hispanic Americans have influenced many and continue to make this country innovative with contributions in nearly every facet of society. Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month means embracing and appreciating the cultural traditions and values of the many countries that fall into the category.


Hispanic Americans remain a key asset in our nation’s diversity through their strong commitment and perseverance.