Hispanic Heritage Month

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

The day was August 17, 1988, when public law 100-402 passed the observation period known as “Hispanic Heritage Month”. This federal holiday takes place every year from September 15th to October 15th, to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observance was originally started by President Lyndon Johnson and then President Ronald Reagan extended the observance week in 1988. These are significant moments in history for the United States and the Hispanic community.

Many contributions made by personnel of Hispanic decent are dated back to World War II. Dr. Héctor P. García, a physician and decorated WWII veteran, helped found the G.I. Forum, a non-profit organization that ensured Hispanic veterans received their entitled benefits under G.I. Bill of Rights of 1944. In 1943, Physicist Luis Walter Alvarez was part of the Manhattan Project team known for creating the United States first atomic bomb. His role on the team was to develop the detonating device for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Sergeant Alfredo Gonzales, United States Marine Corp, was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity for his heroic actions while serving as platoon commander, 3rd Platoon, Company A. The U.S. Navy named a guided missile destroyer (DDG 66) in honor of Sergeant Alfredo Gonzales.

During the 1980s, Richard Edward Cavazos, a Korean War recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross as a first lieutenant, advanced in rank to become the United States Army's first Mexican-American four-star general. Later that year, an astronaut by the name of Franklin Chang-Diaz became the first Hispanic in space. His first mission was aboard the space shuttle Columbia in January 1986, the Atlantis mission in October 1989, and the Endeavour in June 2002. He also helped repair the robotic arm of the International Space Station.

Early in American history, the Hispanic community made tremendous contributions that helped pave the way for many generations to come.  From WWII accomplishments to modern day astronaut expeditions, the influences and impacts are the stepping stones that promote cultural diversity in our country.  Honor them by acknowledging and celebrating their significant achievements.

For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month please visit the Equal Opportunity SharePoint site at https://dm.eim.acc.hedc.af.mil/355FW/EO/Lists/Announcements/AllItems.aspx or contact the Equal Opportunity office at 228-5509. Information for this article was derived from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute web page at https://deomi.org/SpecialObservance/presentations.cfm?CatID=6

References
- About - National Hispanic Heritage Month. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/about/
- http://latino.si.edu/virtualgallery/OJOS/hisbios_Garcia.htm
- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/boalva.html
- S.2200 - 100th Congress (1987-1988): A bill to amend Public Law 90-498 to provide for the designation of National Hispanic Heritage Month. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/senate-bill/2200
- http://www.redirectify.com/people/richard-e-cavazos.html
- https://www.britannica.com/biography/Franklin-Chang-Diaz
- http://homeofheroes.com/moh/citations_1960_vn/gonzalez_alfredo.html