by Kenneth Rudich
The predecessor to National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States was Hispanic Heritage Week, approved by then President Lyndon Johnson. President Ronald Reagan would later expand it to a 30 day period, and it was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.
September 15 was chosen as the launch date of the month-long celebration because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. Moreover, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18 and September 21, respectively.
But at the heart of this celebration is the opportunity to recognize and herald the countless contributions made by American citizens of Hispanic descent. Life in the U.S. and, for that matter, all across world, would not be the same without them.