By Lisa L. McGloiry
September 15th – October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This national observance recognizes the culture, achievements, contributions, and history of Americans whose ancestors hail from Central and South America, Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean. Hispanic Americans are an essential part of the fabric of America and the body of Christ as a whole. Hispanics are the largest ethnic or race minority in the United States — approximately 61 million people who make up 18% of the population.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Proclamation 3869 designating the week beginning September 15, 1968 as “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” President Johnson wrote, “It is with special pride that I call the attention of my fellow citizens to the great contribution to our national heritage made by our people of Hispanic descent—not only in the fields of culture, business, and science, but also through their valor in battle. …The people of Hispanic descent are the heirs of missionaries, captains, soldiers, and farmers who were motivated by a young spirit of adventure, and a desire to settle freely in a free land. This heritage is ours.”
Twenty years later, Rep. Estaben Torres, the first Latino congressman from California, submitted H.R. 3182, a bill to expand National Hispanic Heritage Week to National Hispanic Heritage Month. He wanted to allot more time for the celebration and recognition of Hispanic culture and achievement throughout our nation. President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on August 17, 1998.
National Hispanic Heritage month is unique because it starts and ends in the middle of September and October to recognize various celebrations throughout many Latin American countries. For example, September 15th marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. September 16th and September 18th recognize the independence days of Mexico and Chile. October 12th celebrates Dia del la Raza “day of the race,” which acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous people’s mixed culture and heritage in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, Dream of Destiny will sit down with Shepherd staff members who embody the “Spirit of Orgullo” — those who take pride in their heritage and culture and who inspire Americans of all ethnicities.
Please check back soon for these one-on-one conversations!