An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Legacy HomepageNewsSpecial ReportsHispanic Heritage Month 2016 (Archive)
You have reached a collection of archived material. The content available is no longer being updated and may no longer be applicable.
The following special report is under construction.
Sept. 15 - Oct. 15 National

Hispanic Heritage Month

Embracing, Enriching and Enabling America

65th Infantry Regiment Receives Congressional Gold Medal

Puerto Rican soldiers who fought with the 65th Infantry Regiment through America's conflicts going back to World War II were presented the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony on Capitol Hill, April 13, 2016. More

Members of the 65th Regiment lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., April 13, 2016. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexis Velez. The Borinqueneers also visited the World War II and Korean War Memorials in Washington, D.C.

Shortly after Puerto Rico became part of the United States in 1898, a regiment of Puerto Rican soldiers was formed, and they served our nation bravely ever since. In World War I, they defended the homeland and patrolled the Panama Canal Zone. In World War II, they fought in Europe. In Korea, they fought in mud and snow.
- President Barack Obama
Read More

More About the 65th Infantry Regiment

Hispanic Heritage Month Infographic

Presidential Proclamation

Hispanic Americans ... are the brave men and women in uniform who commit themselves to defending our most cherished ideals at home and abroad. And their lasting achievements and devotion to our Nation exemplify the tenacity and perseverance embedded in our national character.
- President Barack Obama, Sept. 15, 2016
Proclamation 2016 (PDF)
Proclamation in Spanish

Facts of the Day

September / October 2016

  • Sept. 15

    Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th. For the 2016 observance, the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM) chose the theme “Hispanic Americans: Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America.”

  • Sept. 16

    Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The observance began 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 starting on Sept. 15th and ending on Oct. 15th.

  • Sept. 17

    The term Hispanic originates from the Latin word Hispania. It was first used by ancient Romans to describe the region of Spain they conquered in the second century B.C.

    Radomile, Leon J. Heritage Hispanic American Style. Novato, California: 2003
  • Sept. 18

    On June 10, 2014, the 65th Infantry Regiment -- a unit of soldiers who were mostly from Puerto Rico and were known as Los Borinqueneers -- joined the ranks of groups like the Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo Code Talkers by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor from the U.S. Congress.

  • Sept. 19

    In 2014, President Barack Obama corrected a historical act of discrimination when he awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. It was one of the largest Medal of Honor ceremonies in history.

  • Sept. 20

    The Hispanic population of the United States is projected to grow to 119 million in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute 28.6 percent of the nation’s population by that date. In 2014, there were 55 million U.S. Hispanics, accounting for 17 percent of the American population.

  • Sept. 21

    Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca, Spain, in 1905. He went to medical school at the University of Madrid and graduated in 1929. He moved to the United States in 1941 and became an American citizen in 1956. Ochoa became the first Hispanic American to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for discovering the biological mechanisms of DNA and RNA.

  • Sept. 22

    At Stanford University in the 1940s, Dr. Albert Baez, together with Paul Kirkpatrick, developed the first x-ray microscope to observe living cells. His daughter, Joan Baez, became a world famous writer, singer, and human rights activist.

  • Sept. 23

    In 1961, the popular Broadway musical "West Side Story" was made into a feature-length film. The leading role of Anita was given to Rita Moreno, a Peurto Rican-American actress and singer. She became the first Hispanic actress to take home an Academy Award for her performance. She is one of a select group of performers to have won all four of the most prestigious show awards: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy.

  • Sept. 24

    In 1987, Gloria E. Andalzua published her work, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. It became one of the most influential books written by a Latina. Her writing reflects the anger and isolation of a life in the margins of culture and collective identity.

  • Sept. 25

    This Arizona National Guard's 158th Infantry organized as the Arizona Volunteer Infantry for the Indian campaigns in 1865 with the motto, "Cuidado," or "take care." Mustering in the great southwest desert, the unit was mainly Mexican-American and North American Indian from twenty tribes. Expanded in Panama, it was one of the few World War II organizations to complete the trail from "down under" to Japan.

  • Sept. 26

    Many Hispanics fought on both sides in the U.S. Civil War. They came from all socioeconomic levels, from the wealthy who fought to protect their way of life to poor laborers trying to improve their fortunes. By the end of the war, more than 20,000 Hispanics had served.

  • Sept. 27

    Mexican-American César Chávez (1927–1993) was a prominent union leader and labor organizer. In 1962, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Using nonviolent methods -- such as boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes -- Chávez secured raises and improved conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.

  • Sept. 28

    In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Hernandez v. Texas that Hispanics have equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees civil rights to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." The victory provided a legal avenue for Hispanic Americans to combat discrimination.

    Source | Source
  • Sept. 29

    Sept. 15th was chosen as the starting point of Hispanic Heritage Month because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16th, and Chile on Sept. 18th.

  • Sept. 30

    In 1945, eight years before Brown v. Board of Education, Mexican-Americans in Orange County, California won a similar victory over California school districts in Mendez v. Westminster, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that separate Mexican schools were unconstitutional.

  • Oct. 1

    In the 1990s, the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez became the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a Hispanic service member. Marine Corps Sgt. Alfredo Gonzalez was a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in Vietnam on February 4, 1968.

  • Oct. 2

    Eleven Hispanic women have served in Congress, all in the House, and nine of them serve in the 114th Congress. Of these, two are sisters.

  • Oct. 3

    César Pelli was born in Argentina in 1922, and in 1991, became the first Hispanic American to be named as one of the American Institute of Architects' ten most influential living architects. He served as the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, and some of his more prominent designs around the world include Manhattan’s World Financial Center, the renovated Museum of Modern Art, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

    Radomile, Leon J. Heritage Hispanic American Style. Novato, California: 2003
  • Oct. 4

    The Smithsonian Latino Center works with the Smithsonian museums, research centers, programs, and affiliates to ensure that Latino culture, achievement, and contributions are celebrated and recognized. The center ensures that Latino contributions to the arts, sciences, and humanities are highlighted, understood, and advanced through the development and support of public programs, research, museum collections, and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian Institution.

  • Oct. 5

    The oldest of 12 children, Dr. France Anne Córdova was the youngest person to hold the position of NASA chief scientist. Córdova is the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, its highest honor. Currently, she serves as the 14th director of the National Science Foundation, the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

  • Oct. 6

    On Janu. 18, 2001, after a successful diplomatic career representing Mexico around the globe, Mexico City native Juan José Bremer-Martino became Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States. He served until March of 2004.

  • Oct. 7

    Bartolomé de Las Casas (c. 1474–1566) was a Spanish historian and missionary who first went to the Western Hemisphere in 1502 to manage the land given to his father by Christopher Columbus. Inspired by a sermon he heard there, Las Casas relinquished his land holdings and dedicated his life to fighting for the rights and freedom of the indigenous people of the New World.

  • Oct. 8

    According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population, respectively.

  • Oct. 9

    Dr. Julian Samora was the first Mexican-American in the U.S. to receive a doctorate in sociology and anthropology. He became a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame and published reports on the plight of Mexican-Americans. In addition, he was the main force behind the creation of the Mexican-American Graduate Studies Program at Notre Dame, which trained more than fifty academics and professionals in various subjects Samora retired in 1985.

  • Oct. 10

    In 1565, Spanish explorer Adm. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine, Fla., the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States. The Spanish fort Castillo de San Marcos was completed in 1672, and it symbolizes the Spanish heritage of St. Augustine and the United States.

  • Oct. 11

    On May 23, 1943, in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Private Joseph P. Martinez of Colorado became the first Hispanic American to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II. His posthumous award was for the first act of combat heroism on American soil (other than the 15 at Pearl Harbor) since the Indian Campaigns.

  • Oct. 12

    Hispanics have been consistently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math employment. Although the Hispanic share of the workforce has increased significantly from 3 percent in 1970 to 15 percent in 2011, Hispanics were only 7 percent of the STEM workforce in 2011.

  • Oct. 13

    The U.S. Navy christened the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez on May 5, 2012. The ship was named to honor the prominent Mexican-American civil rights activist, who served in the Navy during World War II.

  • Oct. 14

    Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut, became the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center in 2012. Ochoa is the first Hispanic director and second female director. Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission on the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, spending almost 1,000 hours in orbit.

  • Oct. 15

    In 1919 Army Pvt. David Bennes Barkley was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Croix de Guerre from France, and the Croce Merito de Guerra from Italy for his courageous actions in WWI. In 1989 the U.S. Army recognized him at its first Hispanic Medal of Honor recipient.