USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual commemoration held Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Each year, this time is set aside to celebrate the history, achievements, culture and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
“Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit” is the theme of this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month. Jennifer Van Eps, NRCS Visual Information Specialist in Spokane, WA, was awarded first place in the agency’s annual poster contest for her entry and it will serve as NRCS’ official poster for 2011. (The poster is used to raise awareness throughout the agency of National Hispanic Heritage Month, and is not available externally.)
The month-long observance begins on the same date five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—celebrate their independence. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their days of independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
The first formal recognition of Hispanic Heritage was made by Congress in 1968. Originally designated as the week of Sept. 15, the celebration was centered around the Independence Days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, which are celebrated on Sept. 15, and Mexico, which is celebrated on Sept. 16.
In 1988, the celebration was extended to 31 days. Public Law 100-402 authorizes and requests the president to issue an annual proclamation designating Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 as “Hispanic Heritage Month.” It now includes Chile’s Independence Day (Sept. 18) and el Dia de la Raza, or the Hispanic celebration of Columbus Day (Oct. 12).