Just a Thought National Hispanic Heritage Month The celebration is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the country’s history, heritage and culture.

The date was chosen be- cause September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras— places from which many Latin Americans in the US and their ancestors have immigrated. National Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the vital contributions made by Hispanic and Latino people living in the United States, runs until October 15.

The idea for Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated throughout the latter half of September and first half of October, began as a way to promote the history, culture and contributions of Hispanic-Americans specifically those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Communities mark the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans with festivals and educational activities.

Hispanic Heritage Week was first observed under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was Ronald Reagan who extended it to a month- long celebration. Over 300,000 Latinos enlisted in the American military and fought in World War II.
In 1845 Texas became a US State and Texas joined the union as the 28th state. Mexico had controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence.

One way to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month is to plan a fiesta with tasty food, mariachi music and some sombreros for everyone. Or you can involve the kids in fine arts, and light up young minds by educating them about His- panic Arts. Frida Kahlo’s paintings are a good start! Finally start learning Spanish.

Many people forget that numerous Hispanics perished in the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001 in New York. The Dominican community contributed the highest quo- ta of fatalities, (25) among

all the Hispanics who died in the carnage that fateful day. But today, 18 years after the terrorist attack, very few remember many of those victims and how it continues to affect their loved ones.
According to official fig- ures, 9 percent of all citizens that died that day were Dominicans, Columbians, Ecuadorians, Cubans, Argen- tinians, Chilean, Haitians, Mexicans and others from El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Peru, Venezuela, Paraguay, and even some from Guyana.

We recall that four passen- ger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. 227 civilians and the hijackers aboard those four planes died. It was also the deadli- est catastrophe for firefight- ers and law enforcement officers with 343 and 72 respectively.

The words of President Franklin Roosevelt when Pearl Harbor was bombed, ring loud and clear many years later quote: “It is a day that will live in infamy.” It certainly applies to Septem- ber 11th, 2001 for Hispan- ics.

On a positive note closing in on the finale of National Hispanic Heritage Month, remember Hispanics have much to celebrate and much to reflect on to make the world a better place.

As always, I write “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace