Freedom New Mexico
Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins this week, actually started as a single week in the 1960s under the Johnson administration; it was expanded in 1988 to cover the 30 days between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. The dates cover independence anniversaries for Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Columbus Day, which many countries celebrate as the beginning of Latin presence and establishment of Latin American culture in the New World.
The great diversity among Hispanic groups is worth noting as we begin to hear more about their increasing share of America’s demographic pie. They are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country and in most states.
That fact has set off alarms among some people who consider ethnicity important, and could be one of the motivators for recent efforts to curtail immigration, deny U.S. citizenship to U.S.-born children of foreign nationals and similar measures. We hear complaints that celebrations of Cinco de Mayo or national independence days, are proof that Hispanics don’t wish to assimilate in this country, and aren’t simply celebrations of culture like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest.
Such celebrations in no way threaten our national culture; rather, they enrich and strengthen it by showing the diversity of backgrounds we bring together into one nation, a nation where most people and their forefathers came by choice. They came to enjoy freedoms that might not have been available to them in their countries of origin. How wrong it would be to deny our children the very freedoms our parents fought so hard to guarantee.
We hope that demographic parity and familiarity will help more people recognize that, no matter what our origins, Americans have similar values and goals. We can all celebrate our backgrounds, while working together to build a better future.