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VAFB celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

VAFB celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

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John Olivias, an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut, gives a presentation in the Steve Schiff Auditorium of Sandia National Laboratories on Sept. 25, 2019. Sandia hosted the event where participants sampled Hispanic foods, viewed and judged student artwork and listened to Olivias talk about his contributions, and journey with NASA. This was the first event to highlight Hispanic Heritage observance month on Kirtland. The month pays tribute to the contributions that Hispanics and Latino American culture have made to the fabric of our nation. 

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- Taco Tuesday, this day has become an icon in American cuisine and society. While not “official” per se, this day can be celebrated every week. By coincidence, this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month starts on Tuesday. However, Hispanic food is more diverse than tacos alone and cannot be constrained to one day of enjoyment. The same can be said for celebrating all the history, culture, sacrifice and contributions that Americans with a Hispanic heritage have given to this country.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, formerly known as Hispanic Heritage Week, has been celebrated for more than 50 years and dates back to 1968.

In 1988, during the President Ronald Regan administration the observance period, that was once only a week extended to a month and received its new name. Since then, National Hispanic Heritage Month begins every 15th of September and ends the 15th of October.

Strategic timing and consideration went on in selecting the dates for the celebration.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, September 15, is a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

The Hispanic population in the United States as of July 1, 2019, is roughly estimated at 60.6 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 18.5% of the nation’s total population.

During this month members pay respect to the Americans who sacrificed themselves for this nation. “In the long history of this country, Hispanics have fought bravely for the United States. From the Civil War to the Vietnam War, Hispanics have a reputation of being the first in and the last out,” Cristina Mora Such is the case of Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, who earned two Bronze Star with Valor medals for acts of heroism in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

We celebrate the people who have made colossal contributions to the American way of life, such as César Estrada Chávez, Ellen Ochoa and Dr. France Anne Cordova, just to name a few.

Most importantly during this month, we share our culture with the world and pass on traditions to future generations by celebrating our heritage.

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