PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed annually throughout the United States from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, will be celebrated at the Presidio's Tin Barn 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

Between 1969 and 1988 Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan issued a series of annual proclamations that designated a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, according to the Library of Congress website.

These proclamations celebrated the contributions to America of men and women of Hispanic origin as well as recalling the work of the early Spanish explorers and settlers.

Then, National Hispanic Heritage Month was first celebrated in 1989.

This year's national theme is: "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today."

The purpose and significance of paying tribute to Americans of Hispanic origin is implicit in this year's proclamation of National Hispanic Heritage Month by President Barack Obama.

"This month, we celebrate this rich heritage and reflect on the invaluable contributions Hispanics have made to America," Obama said in the proclamation. "Our nation's story would not be possible without generations of Hispanics who have shaped and strengthened the fabric of our Union. They have enriched every aspect of our national identity with traditions that stretch across centuries and reflect the many ancestries that comprise the Hispanic community."

The mid-September to mid-October timing of Hispanic Heritage Month pays homage to the national aspirations of Latin American neighbors of the United States. Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18, according to the Library of Congress website.

Additionally, the Army expressed support for Hispanic recognition in an announcement posted on the Army's "Stand-To!" website on Sept. 17.

"In honor of the tremendous contributions Hispanics make to our force, the Army joins our nation in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month," the announcement says. "Throughout the Army's history Hispanic Soldiers have served our nation proudly."

"Hispanics have played a vital role in the moments that have shaped our country, and during Hispanic American Heritage Month we recognize the achievements and contributions of these individuals," the website says. "America's diversity is a source of strength, and Hispanic Americans have not hesitated to defend and show their allegiance to this nation in many ways, but especially through military service."