/ Published September 28, 2016
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from 15 Sept. - 15 Oct.
by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose
ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President
Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a
31-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17th, 1988, on the approval of
Public Law 100-402.
September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September
16th and September 18th, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza,
which is October 12th.
The term Hispanic or Latino, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to
Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin
regardless of race. On the 2010 Census form, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin
could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican,
Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
In 2014, there were 55 million U.S. Hispanics, accounting for 17 percent of
the American population. The Hispanic population of the United States is projected to grow to 119 million in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute
31 percent of the nation’s population by that date.
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
multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.