Hispanic Heritage Month ends October 15

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Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 – October 15 to celebrate the contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

This year’s theme, “Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity,” was chosen by the National Council of Hispanic Employment Managers and invites us to reflect on Hispanic Americans’ vitality and meaningful legacy in our Nation’s cultural framework.

America’s diversity has always been one of our nation’s greatest strengths. Hispanic Americans have long played an integral role in America’s rich culture, proud heritage, and the building of this great nation.

The Beacon recognizes and honors a long and proud heritage through the years. In this issue, the 2000s and 2010s.

2000s

Ronald Rabago becomes the first Hispanic to be promoted to Rear Admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard.  Additionally, he plays a critical role in initiating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs for economically disadvantaged high school students.

Sonia Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice and the third woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alfred Rascon is awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic service in Vietnam at a White House ceremony with the men he had saved looking on.

Second Lieutenant Emily Perez, a West Point graduate and the military academy’s first female minority Cadet Command Sergeant Major, is the first female West Point graduate to be killed in Iraq. She posthumously received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action badge.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis becomes the first Hispanic female Cabinet member.  She was also the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues.

Angela Salinas becomes the first Hispanic woman to hold the rank of Brigadier General.  She is also the first woman in Marine Corps history to lead one of its two recruit training facilities.

2010s

Maria Contreras-Sweet is nominated by President Barack Obama to join his Cabinet as head of the Small Business Administration. She becomes the 24th Administrator.

Julie Chávez Rodriguez, granddaughter of César Chávez, becomes Deputy Director of Public Engagement at the White House. In this role, she coordinates the White House’s efforts surrounding immigration reform and outreach to the Latino community.

President Obama corrects a historical act of discrimination when he awards the Medal of Honor to 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. It is one of the largest Medal of Honor ceremonies in history.

These individuals—along with many other Hispanic Americans—have energized our nation’s diversity. Hispanic Americans continue to shape our country in a myriad of areas through their strong commitment to family, faith, ingenuity, hard work, and public service.