National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 Published Sept. 14, 2021 Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Every year the Department of Defense joins the Nation in celebrating and honoring the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. This year’s theme is: “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” On Sept. 17, 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-48, officially authorizing and requesting the president to issue annual proclamations declaring Sept. 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation. On Sept.14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare the 31-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. “Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities,” Bush said. September 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 on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. The term Hispanic refers to people of any race who trace their ethnic roots to a country where Spanish is the main language, including Spain. Latino refers to people of any race who trace their roots back to countries from the Caribbean, Mexico, and throughout Central and South America. Today, thousands of Hispanic-American Service members throughout the world are protecting our nation. Just as in generations past, we honor our Hispanic community -- military and civilian -- for their significant contributions to (or toward) protecting the United States and embodying the DoD values that unite us all as one team.