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This History of Hispanic Heritage Month

People of Hispanic heritage are proud. They rejoice and celebrate their culture through their language, clothing, food and music. These traditions are a culmination of the vast Latin countries around the world.

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated and observed from September 15 to October 15 in the United States for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

Hispanic Heritage Month began as Hispanic Heritage Week. Hispanic Heritage Week was established by legislation sponsored by Representative Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles, California, and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. In 1988, the commemorative week was expanded to a month from September 15 to October 15, by legislation sponsored by Representative Esteban Edward Torres (D-Pico Rivera), and was amended by Senator Paul Simon and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, who all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21 respectively.

President Lyndon B. Johnson first proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 in Presidential proclamation 3869. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan gave annual proclamations for Hispanic Heritage Week between 1969 and 1988. President George H. W. Bush first proclaimed national Hispanic Heritage Month on September 14, 1989 in Presidential Proclamation 6021. Since 1989, all Presidents have given a Presidential Proclamation to mark Hispanic Heritage Month.

Through parades, festivals and family gathering are celebrates with food, music, and art since its establishment, Spanish Heritage Month continues to grow more and more each year. It is obvious to see why the Spanish culture is a celebrated as it is.

by Kimberley Blair Pleasant

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