FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- The U.S. Army Garrison community will celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at a luncheon held at The Commons at Fort McPherson.

Georgia State Rep. Pedro Marin, House District 96, will be the guest speaker and address this year's theme: "Getting involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation."

Marin, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said he will speak on the many contributions Latin American immigrants made to the United States of America.

Those who come to the United States help to make the country unique and special as they embrace the principles of freedom, liberty, justice and equality, he said.

They not only believe in those ideals, but Latinos are willing to fight for them.

"Hispanics have served with distinction in every battle since the American Revolution," said Marin.

Not only have the number of Hispanics increased in the military, both enlisted and commissioned officers, Marin said, but as home and business owners, they are making an increasing contribution to economic growth in their local, civilian communities.

"We all benefit from a highly educated, healthy and productive work force," said Marin.

Marin credits those who have come before him and built productive communities for his success as a legislator.

Finally, Marin said he supports the idea of heritage celebrations. Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

"Hispanic Heritage Month is a good way to break down the barriers of ignorance and fear by highlighting who we are as a people," he said.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.

Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days Sept. 16 and 18, respectively. Columbus Day or DAfAa de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30-day period.

The theme for each year's celebration is voted on by the National council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers. This year's winning theme was submitted by Amy Shalom of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service in Riverdale, Md.