Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Why September 15? It’s the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
We’re marking Hispanic Heritage Month with a two-part series. Up first we heard more about advocates past and present and this week we’re delving into how you can connect with Hispanic Heritage in the United States and the District.
Never heard of Marta Morena Vega, Sandra Cisneros or Dolores Huerta? How about Sonia Sotomayor? Every Wednesday at 11 am, the Smithsonian Institution is dedicating its coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month to shining a light of some of the lesser-known history makers. You can also read more about the push to build a Latino museum along the National Mall, considering Latino and Hispanic history is American history.
For even more options, the DC Library has a comprehensive list of resources to read, watch, listen to and learn – from age-adjusted reading lists for kids, teens, and adults, to films to watch and events to stream or even music to listen to!
Nationally, there are numerous National Parks that help visitors discover the diverse and rich cultural history and heritage preserved within parks and through our programs and partners. Dive into the trials and tribulations of Chávez’s efforts in the farm worker movement at the César E. Chávez National Monument, or explore one of the dozens of National Monuments and Parks centered around Hispanic Heritage in the U.S. including Fort Matanzas in Florida, where Europeans fought to control the New World, or Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, where thousands of people travelled through Mexico and Southern California to settle in Northern California (and ‘discover’ the redwoods!).
In a similar but different vein, the National Forest also celebrates and acknowledges the rich history, cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans. Get to know your U.S. Forest Service employees including Helen Cortez, Magaly Figueroa, or David Flores at one of the 154 National Forests! Cortez summed up the importance of Hispanic Heritage throughout our National Parks and Forests with this thought, “For many Latino families, Hispanic Heritage Month is about recognizing our collective contributions and efforts as well as educating those around the world who might not know much about our culture and heritage. This celebration also serves as a great opportunity to delve deeper into Latin American history and share knowledge about the many important roles that Latin Americans have played in U.S. history in particular, and how they continue to help shape our American experience.”
This month as the nation celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month it’s important that we recognize the positive and significant contributions of Latin Americans. But these contributions are omnipresent and should be celebrated every day, including through our national parks, monuments, and landmarks.