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National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15th to October 15th. It honors the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans from 20 countries and territories worldwide. This includes all residents — or those with ancestors — from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Why National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th
The celebration's mid-month start date holds a special significance. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. In addition, Mexico and Chile mark their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
Cities and towns across the US celebrate the month with traditional festivals and parades. Schools commemorate the occasion by highlighting the achievements of Latinos and Hispanics.
The extensive list includes major league baseball player Roberto Clemente. He was the first Latino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Equally inspiring was Padre Felix Varela. The clergyman educated poor minorities in New York City in the early 1820s. He also founded nurseries and orphanages for children.
Then there is Sonia Sotomayor. She is the first Hispanic and third woman to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Former NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to go to space. She served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic and second female director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. Of course, no mention of Latino achievements can be complete without Lin-Manuel Miranda, the award-winning creator of Broadway shows like Hamilton" and In The Heights.
Many institutions, including the Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC) and the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), mark this all-important month with educational programs centered around the annual theme. The 2023 theme is "We Are All, We Are One." It reinforces the built-in diversity within the Hispanic community and the power of unity.
Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!
Resources: History.com, Whitehouse.gov, www.wkyc.com