Greetings, Hispanic-Latino familias! Greetings in God’s love! Greetings in the peace that we have secure in Christ! Greetings Hispanic Americans!
Each year, we have the opportunity to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. This month has been designated as a time to remember and celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of the millions of people whose ancestors came from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and Spain. It can also be a time to educate and learn together.
The observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month (or Hispanic Heritage Month) began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, to cover a period of 30 days.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
And, although the historical events of October 12, 1492 (which gave rise to Columbus Day) have not always been popular, now, for many people, it has become a day to celebrate and highlight the many ethnicities and cultures of Latin American peoples – a cause to recognize and honor the great diversity of cultural expressions represented in the Hispanic-Latino people of the United States. People thus identified as Latinos, Hispanics, or Hispanic-Latinos are now called, in many circles, Hispanic Americans or Hispanoamericanos. It should be clarified that this phrase refers to those who live in the United States; the inhabitants of Latin America are identified as Latin Americans or Latinoamericanos.
Before the United States even existed most of the western portion of the North American continent was inhabited by Spanish-speaking peoples, and most assuredly even before them, Native American peoples and their tribes. This reality existed years before any western expansion of those who immigrated from Europe and moved from east to west began conquering and claiming lands as their own. As a result of that expansion, a new border was created between Mexico and the new United States.
The Hispanic American community has always left an indelible mark on the culture and economy of the United States, even since its inception. Hispanic Americans have been part of the history and integral formation of the prosperity of the United States and embody the best of American values. In 1777, for example, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, joined General George Washington’s fight against British soldiers and helped bring about independence. More than 300,000 Hispanic Latinos enlisted in the US Army and fought in World War II. Today some 1.3 million of our military personnel are Hispanic-Latinos.
Today, with more than 62 million people, the Hispanic-Latino (or Hispanic American) population makes it the largest ethnic minority in the United States. There is no way to truly quantify nor list all of the valuable contributions over the years that Hispanic Americans have made and continue to make to this country.
“Being Hispanic American” refers to a very diverse population that resides in the United States, but whose roots come from the great wealth and contributions of Latin American countries and their cultures. We honor and value everyone with these heritages present in this nation, whether they were born here or not. Without a doubt, this is a reason for pride and thanksgiving; but also a reason to recognize the challenges in their daily lives and endless struggle for recognition and well-being as members of this nation. Reason for celebration, but also a reason to express compassion, understanding, and solidarity. And we all accept the call to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, motivated by God’s love and mercy, the salvation that we have secure in Christ, and the peace and joy that we receive from the Holy Spirit.
That is why, especially in this time – a time of so much fear, uncertainty, anguish, anxiety, and loss – it is appropriate to celebrate Hispanic-Latino heritage among us. That’s right, let’s celebrate, Hispanic American people!
+ En el nombre de Cristo +
Prof. Marcos Kempff
Revisado por Dr. Doulas Rutt
Centro de Estudios Hispanos-Seminario Concordia, St. Louis
Septiembre del 2022