National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 in the United States. During this time, people recognize and honor the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the country’s history, heritage and culture. The term Hispanic or Latino, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
The observance of 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 30-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. The month is significant because it celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day that is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Today, 57.5 million people or 18% of the American population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Observing Hispanic Heritage Month allows our country to show its recognition and support for the work Latinos are doing in helping this country grow.
Share in this special annual tribute by learning and celebrating the generations of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office!
Lafayette Woods, Jr.