National Hispanic Heritage Month
By Jan Norwood
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration held from September 15 to October 15 annually. It is a month to celebrate the history and culture of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The event began in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week. It was enacted into law and expanded to a month-long event under President Ronald Reagan in August 1988. The month encompasses several important dates for Latin American countries. September 15th is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s Independence Day is on September 16th while Chile’s Independence Day is on September 18th. Belize was added to the list of nations after declaring its independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981.
The theme for the 2021 celebration is Esperanza, which is A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope. Mr. Victor Anthony Zertuche, Attorney-Advisor at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, submitted the winning theme, stating “The past year has been one unlike any in recent memory. For so many of us our lives have changed; we've celebrated life's milestones at home or spent holidays alone. But despite how our world has changed, we've kept our eyes on the horizon--we've held onto our hope. This theme celebrates our Hispanic heritage and our resilience. It provides us the opportunity to reflect on those who came before us and held onto hope to create a better tomorrow. It inspires us to recognize that we are stronger together and reminds us that although we are apart, with hope, we are not alone.” (The 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month Theme Announced!, 2021)
Many organizations sponsor various events celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and this year is no different. To represent the 2021 Esperanza celebration, The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM) hosted a poster contest. Ms. Adriana Castillo and Ms. Eliana De León both produced winning entries in the poster contest.
Ms. Adriana Castillo, Human Rights Activist and Child Developmental Specialist, submitted her poster stating:
“Humanity is going through very painful moments caused by the pandemic, but we must remember that after the storm comes the calm. In this portrait, we can appreciate a hand that raises the flags of Hispanics together with people of different ethnicities looking towards a majestic rainbow that represents Hope. ‘Esperanza!’”
Ms. Eliana De León, Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Environmental Protection Agency submitted her poster stating:
“The 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month theme invites us to celebrate Hispanic Heritage and to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope. It also encourages us to reflect on all the contributions Hispanics have made in the past and will continue to make in the future.”