Hispanic Heritage Month honors a proud people, heritage

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christy Cruz
  • 71st Medical Support Squadron
Remembering the heritages and histories by acknowledging the challenges and struggles of all people in the United States is essential to understanding various cultures, gaining respect, moving forward towards acceptance, and building a stronger mission-ready military. America's cultural diversity has always been an area of strength for the nation. The Hispanic-American community has a long history of commitment to the nation's values and has helped make the country what it is today.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.

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 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It was enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The term Hispanic was coined by the federal government in the 1970s in reference to individuals born in any Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas or those who could trace their ancestry to Spain. This clearly represents a wide variety of countries and ethnic groups with numerous political and social circumstances.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a Hispanic to include any Spanish-speaking person in the United States of any race. In the 2000 Census, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." The 2000 Census reported more than 35 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. Still, most Hispanics see themselves in terms of their individual ethnic identity, for instance, Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban, instead of members of the larger, more ambiguous term Hispanic or Latino.

The Department of Defense demographic profile for fiscal year 2006 reported there were more than 143,600 active duty military personnel who identified themselves as of a Hispanic ethnicity. Of those, more than 18,600 served in the U.S. Air Force.

This year's commemoration focuses on, "Hispanic Americans: Making a Positive Impact on American Society." The Vance Cultural Committee invites everyone to participate in celebrating this rich and diverse culture and encourages everyone to recognize the important role of Hispanics in America. Some events happening here include:
  • Libre Book Event: Stories with Youth. Event is Sept. 24 through Sept. 28 at the CDC. Spread knowledge through reading Spanish-themed books. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Nina Sellers at x7905.
  • Libre Book Event: Stories with Youth. Event is Sept. 25 through Sept. 28 at Eisenhower Elementary School. Spread knowledge through reading Spanish-themed books. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Nina Sellers at x7905.
  • Healthy Cooking Class: Spanish Cuisine. Event is Sept. 26 at the Health and Wellness Center from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Learn how to cook a health Spanish Dish for you and your family. For more information, contact Master Sgt. Luis Guarjardo at x7008.
  • Breakfast Burrito sale.  Pre-sales for burritos and beverages are Oct. 2 and delivery is Oct. 3 between 5 and 8 a.m. For more information, contact 2nd Lt. Christopher Husher at x6396 or Master Sgt. Steven Miller at x7303.
    Libre Book Event: Stories with Youth. Event is Oct. 3 and Oct. 10 at the Enid Public Library. Spread knowledge through reading Spanish-themed books. For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Nina Sellers at x7905.
  • Fall Festival Booth. Event is Oct. 4 at the Youth Center from 3 to 6 p.m. Learn more about various Hispanic cultures at the Vance Cultural Committee fall festival booth. For more information, contact Tech Sgt. Shantelle Mingo at x7307.
  • Fiesta Luncheon. Event is Oct. 16 at the Youth Center from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This is a finale for the monthly observance with free food, music and culture for families and friends. For more information, contact 1st Lt. Christy Cruz at x7419.
Team Vance members and their families are encouraged to participate in this year's events. If you would like to volunteer to help out at any of these events or would like more info, contact 1st Lt. Christy Cruz at x7419.