For Hispanic American service members, Hispanic Heritage month is a chance to honor their heritage and learn about their contributions to our nation's history.
“I think diversity is important because it creates the dynamics for our force to be multidimensional, as opposed to being one-dimensional with one type of Soldier,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Agustín Montañez, a public affairs mass communications sergeant assigned to the 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 101st Troop Command, Puerto Rico Army National Guard. “The fact that we are from many different places from all across the world and can join the United States Army is a great thing.”
Since 1988, the United States has celebrated Hispanic Heritage month from September 15th to October 15th. It is a chance to recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The observance was first established as Hispanic Heritage Week by President Lynden B. Johnson in 1968. It was later expanded to a monthlong celebration in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.
September 15 became the starting point for the commemoration because it is the anniversary of the Grito de Dolores, or "Cry of Dolores." This date marked the start of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810 which resulted in independence for the New Spain Colony, today known as the nations of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua.
It’s been nearly 250 years since the first Hispanic Soldiers marched into battle during the Revolutionary War. Hispanic Americans have played a pivotal role in the U.S. Armed Forces in the past two centuries, serving in all military branches and bravely fighting in every war since. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, 59 people of Hispanic heritage have received the Medal of Honor. According to the Department of Defense, 17.2% of active-duty military personnel from all service branches identify as Hispanic or Latino.
“It’s important for us, as Hispanics, to represent our culture and to show that not only we’re a part of the military, but also it’s important for us to distinguish ourselves as Soldiers and Latin Americans,” said Spc. Hassani Ribera, a public affairs mass communications sergeant assigned to the 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 101st Troop Command, Puerto Rico Army National Guard, and Florida, Puerto Rico native. “It makes me feel proud to serve as a Soldier, but also to celebrate our particular month in the year for us, the Latin culture.”