From September 15th to October 15th each year, Hispanics in the U.S. have 31 days to celebrate who we are: our roots, history, culture, and contributions to this country. Besides recognizing all of those outstanding citizens, Hispanic Heritage Month reminds us how far we can go when we leave aside social stigmas and work together regardless of race or ethnicity.
This month represents an opportunity to show our kids what brought us to this country and teach them to be committed as part of the largest minority group in the United States. As Hispanics, we always have our countries of origin in our hearts, but we are also Americans who yearn for the same as all other citizens: a strong country that we can call home.
A Little Bit of History
Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th. I grew up participating in the events and parades that commemorate this important date for all Mexicans; however, when I got to this country, I started listening about Hispanic Heritage Month and realized that several other countries celebrate their independence in September:
- September 15th: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua
- September 16 th: México
- September 18th: Chile
The fact that these important dates are so close together, was probably the perfect reason for President Lyndon B. Johnson to declare Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Twenty years later, the celebration grew even more, thanks to President Ronald Reagan. The Law 100-402, established in 1988, requested that the president emit a proclamation and declare Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanics in the U.S.
There are about 58.9 million Hispanics in this country, as stated by CNN with information from the U.S. Census Bureau. We represent 18.1% of the total U.S. population.
Hispanics are a minority that is growing fast. Hispanic people are significant to the past, present, and future of the United States, as we are involved in all different areas, from politics and business, to science, sports, and arts. The climate of hatred that is often felt, should not interfere with the achievements and contributions of the Hispanic presence in U.S.
President Barack Obama described this in his presidential proclamation in 2016:
“Hispanic Americans have had a lasting impact on our history and have helped drive hard-won progress for all our people. They are the writers, singers, and musicians that enrich our arts and humanities; the innovative entrepreneurs steering our economy. They are the scientists and engineers revolutionizing our ways of life and making sweeping new discoveries; the advocates leading the way for social and political change. They are the brave men and women in uniform who commit themselves to defending our most cherished ideals at home and abroad. And their lasting achievements and devotion to our Nation exemplify the tenacity and perseverance embedded in our national character.”
In the same way, President Donald Trump recognized our community in his proclamation in 2018:
“During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor all American citizens of Hispanic descent and celebrate their rich and vibrant traditions of faith, family, hard work, and patriotism. We are grateful for the innumerable contributions they make to our society, which are vital to our thriving Nation. We are especially grateful for the 1.2 million Hispanic-American men and women who have answered the call to serve in our Armed Forces, demonstrating remarkable loyalty, bravery, and dedication to duty.”
What I Want My Kids to Know
I’m proud to be part of the Hispanic population of the United States. I would love for my kids to grow up appreciating our culture and feeling proud of it. My husband and I are trying to educate them so that they love both countries, knowing that they are from Mexican descent and have acquired their Mexican citizenship because of us, but they are also American citizens. They see this duality in the simplest way each day:
- They speak Spanish but are learning English.
- They listen to “La Vaca Lola,” but then also sing “The Wheels on the Bus.”
- We travel within the United States, but we also travel to Mexico.
- They eat tacos, but they also eat hamburgers.
As they grow, I’m sure they will realize that even though there is some rejection of our community, we are valued by a vast majority and the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is also a celebration of union.