National Hispanic Heritage Month: A Time to Remember and a Time to Celebrate
Every year National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates a rich cultural history provided by peoples from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Hispanic Heritage Week be observed and President Ronald Reagan expanded it to cover the 30-day period beginning on September 15 continuing through October 15 every year. September 15th serves as a logical beginning for the observance since it is the anniversary of the declarations of independence of five Latin American countries, followed by Mexico's on the 16th and Chile's on the 18th.
The theme of this year's celebration, " Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation," is a great reminder to engage ourselves in our surroundings, to be cognizant of the needs of our families, and to participate in our civic responsibilities.
"Get involved in our families" is a powerful phrase. Connect with your family by engaging in conversations with your children and spouse and eating dinner with them. Find out what is going on in their lives and commit to absorbing yourself in your family. Everyday is the perfect time to make lifelong memories.
Get involved in our communities. Introducing yourself to a new neighbor is an easy way to strengthen your community. Volunteer work is a rewarding way to meet and help and meet people in your area. There are many means of volunteering your gifts, talents and time to those who need it. A great way to start is by contacting your local United Way.
Get involved in our nation. This is a timely reminder to vote in this upcoming election. This was a hard-fought privilege for Mexican-Americans in particular. In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo granted citizenship to Mexicans living in Southwestern territories, but denied them the right to vote citing property, language and literacy requirements. This continued until 1921 when The Sons of America organized to fight for Mexican-American citizens' rights, including the right to vote. It wasn't until as late as 1975 that all Mexican-Americans obtained voting rights. In honor of those who fought diligently for this right, please take the time to utilize it.
Our ancestors struggled to give us the opportunities we have. The best way to thank them is to make the most of these fortunes, and create new ones for the next generations.
Carlos I. Uresti is the State Senator of District 19, representing approximately 700,000 people in the largest geographical senate district in the contiguous 48 states. Senate District 19 spans a 23 county area stretching along the U.S.-Mexico border, from San Antonio to El Paso County. Covering 55,000 square miles, the district contains 62 school districts, spans two time zones, and is larger than 24 states and 25 countries.