America has many reasons that it’s able to operate as a great nation on and off of the battlefield. One of our most important attributes, however, continues to be the diversity of the United States. While American culture overall has its own ethos, we also have many subcultures within our nation from both regional and heritage standpoints. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the tremendous contributions Hispanic and Latino people have made and continue to make in our community and throughout our military branches.
When Is Hispanic Heritage Month?
National Hispanic Heritage Month runs each year from September 15 through October 15. Throughout this time, various Hispanic Heritage Month activities can be found across the U.S. in celebration of the many cultures that make up the Hispanic ethnicity.
Education is another important component of the month; you’ll likely find many different activities, and the media will present Hispanic Heritage Month facts throughout this time to help showcase Hispanic and Latino historical moments and figures.
The Fastest Growing Demographic in the U.S. Military
A look at the changing profile of the U.S. military points to a not-so-surprising trend; the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other within the American Armed Forces.
Even as some reports show a slowing in the growth of Hispanic people within the United States, the ethnicity continues to make its footprint throughout the country.
But we’re not just talking about places such as Texas or Florida where the culture has had ample time to take root. You’ll find Hispanic influence throughout the lower 48 representing a tenth of Hawaii’s population and a smaller yet respectable population calling Alaska home.
Embracing the differences within various subcultures found in the U.S. leads to innovation and a better understanding.
These things, of course, are welcomed attributes in the U.S. military, and they have served Americans well when on and off the battlefield.
There’s no denying it. Hispanic cultures have played a major role in keeping our nation safe through their sacrifice and service.
Resilience is a trait of any good warrior, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more resilient group of people anywhere. Here are just a few notable Hispanic Veterans who served our country:
1. Marcelino Serna
Serna became the first Hispanic-American to earn the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts during World War I. He killed 26 enemies and captured another 24 during his time in France.
2. Joe P. Martínez
Martinez is a Veteran who goes down as the first Hispanic to receive the Medal of Honor for his service during World War II. He was known to clear enemy trenches by himself as the leader of the charge on many occasions.
3. Carmen Contreras-Bozak
Contreras-Bozak would be one of the many women in America to take on extra responsibilities during World War II. She received several medals for her contributions toward helping the U.S. win WWII when she was a pioneer in what would become the Women’s Army Corps.
4. Angel Mendez
Mendez represented his Puerto Rican and American heritages with pride by giving his life for his fellow Marines during the Vietnam War, an action that would posthumously earn him the Navy Cross.
5. Richard Edward Cavazos
General Cavazos won many honors during his illustrious military career for extraordinary accomplishments in both the Korean War and Vietnam War. He was the first Hispanic military member to reach the rank of four-star general in the history of the U.S. Army.
We all have a long way to go in recognizing Hispanic people in our communities, but those who serve our country deserve nothing less than the utmost respect from their fellow man.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time to remember those who came before us as well as those who continue to serve the U.S. with the same gusto, providing skillful sacrifice throughout their time in the American Armed Forces.
Why Do We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
With nearly 63 million Hispanic people in the U.S., it’s clear to see that Hispanic heritage and American heritage are deeply intertwined.
We wish everyone a Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to continue to celebrate the great contributions Hispanic people make in America each and every day.
Various Presidents have made mention of the month, but President Ronald Reagan officially declared Hispanic Heritage Month as a time for national recognition of Hispanic and Latino figures and history in 1988. The celebration was enacted into law on August 17 that same year.
Today, we continue this tradition as an opportunity to grow and celebrate the many cultures that make Hispanic Heritage Month and our country so special all year long.
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Image: DVIDS Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trey Hutcheson USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) | The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.