National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15, 2012

2012 HAHM banner

¡Saludos!  Join me in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.  This year’s theme is “Diversity United, Building America’s Future Today.”

Each year we observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th to honor the many contributions made by Americans of Hispanic descent.  The commemoration officially began in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week.  Under President Ronald Reagan the 30 day observance became law in 1988.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 16.3%, or 50,477,594, Americans identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.  Many of those are Spanish speakers and that explains why our language has been enriched with so many words from Spanish.

Some of our most famous place names have Spanish origins.  Colorado is a Spanish word for “reddish.” El Paso means simply “the passage.” Florida means “flowery,” and Las Vegas can be translated as “meadows.” San Francisco is named after Saint Francis and San Antonio is Spanish for Saint Anthony.

It is not only with words that Hispanic-Americans have enriched our national fabric.  Hispanic-Americans have served in our Nation’s Armed Forces since the founding of our nation and currently comprise 8% of the federal civilian workforce.  Our DoDEA family is a microcosm of America in many ways.  Almost 19 % of the student population enrolled in DoDEA schools is of Hispanic heritage.  As educators we exemplify this year’s theme as we work together with our students to build America’s future. 

For many of us some of the most accessible and enjoyable ways to enjoy another culture is by enjoying the food, the music and literature.  Whether you eat pupusas, listen to mariachis or read Isabel Allende – you celebrate Hispanic Heritage!  Please take the opportunity to learn more about the cultures of Americans who trace their ancestry through Spain, Mexico, South or Central America and the many contributions they have made to the United States.

Marilee Fitzgerald
Director, DoDEA