Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15, celebrates the many ways Hispanic Americans have influenced and enriched life in the United States. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
The Hispanic Heritage Celebration was created by President Lyndon Johnson to recognize and honor the contributions, heritage and culture of Hispanic Americans to the United States. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the celebration to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988 and the White House established the National Hispanic Heritage Awards in 1987 in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanics are the nation’s largest ethnic minority at 50 million people. The Hispanic presence was and still is evident in all aspects of the development of this country. Hispanics were involved in exploring the Americas and helped the colonists obtain their liberty from England. Hispanics have served their country valiantly in the armed forces since the Revolutionary War and through the present time.
This year’s theme is “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit.” America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Each state has different kinds of celebrations that include festivals, carnivals, art shows, cultural activities, concerts, and lots of Latin American food! Every Hispanic community is in charge of organizing these events. It is a great time to celebrate a family legacy and remember their culture. The Georgian community in particular is getting ready to kick off the 5th annual Fiesta Georgia which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 23 at the Georgia International Horse Park. Fiesta Georgia is Georgia’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, featuring a daylong celebration of Latino culture with nonstop live musical performances on two stages by international, national and local recording artists. Mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing, helicopter rides, youth soccer clinics, interactive sponsor displays with many free product samples, arts and crafts and authentic foods from several Latin-American countries all bring Fiestas Patrias to life at Fiesta Georgia.
Each year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, it’s a time to reflect on the past, stand tall in the present and look forward to the future of Latinos in America. Latinos and Americans of Latino heritage look forward to Hispanic Heritage month to show their pride in their heritage and look to the past for strength to help build a common future.