Readers, we are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage month. Be sure to celebrate! Many American groups celebrate their heritage and diversity. From Black History, Women's History, Native American, Puerto Rican, Irish, Greek, Scottish, Jewish, Asian/Pacific, Carribbean, Polish, Arab, Italian, German, European, Disabled Americans, Gay Americans, all celebrate being American and their heritage.
In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 by Congress to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), effective the following year. America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
Hispanic Citizen Population in America: 48.4 million
The estimated Hispanic Citizen population of the United States as of July 1, 2009, was 48.4M, today, it is closer to 50M, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16 percent of the nation's total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean U.S. territory. The US has 97 men for every 100 women. However, there are 107 Hispanic men for every 100 Hispanic women.
Many celebrations are being held across the country in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. This year, the theme of these very American celebrations is to celebrate Hispanic Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Military Honor. In Mount Holly, PA, for example, Hispanic heritage and traditions will be on full display at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church. The parish will be honoring Hispanics with a special outdoor Mass, procession of flags of 22 Hispanic nations, traditional dances, and a meal featuring congregants' favorite dishes. "We celebrate our cultural differences and, with pride, we show what our differences are," said Father Joe Roldan, who has been at the church for five years. "Everything is done with Hispanic flavor (at the church). It's unique in that sense." Christ the Redeemer is the only Hispanic Catholic parish in the county, Roldan said. Masses are celebrated in Spanish and English. English Mass is at noon Sundays; Spanish Masses are at 7 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. Sundays. Roldan said the celebration is expected to last from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The church is at 426 Pine St.The Hispanic heritage celebration has been held for 30 of the church's 33 years.
"The purpose is to acknowledge the contributions of Americans of Hispanic descent have made to our country," said Roldan, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent. After the bilingual Mass, visitors will be able to sample Hispanic foods and view traditional dances from various countries. Traditional garb will be worn by many attendees, Roldan said. "We are proud of our Hispanic heritage," parishioner Lucy Fernandez said. "It's just a prideful thing. Anybody can come and see our heritage."
Fernandez said church members might use different dialects, but they still share many commonalities. Roldan said the parish is proud of all the nations represented by its congregants and invited the public to get a sampling of Hispanic culture.