Hispanic Heritage Month spawns reflection

Posted 9/22/20

Sept. 15-Oct. 15 marks a a month of pride and tradition for millions of individuals in the United States whose ancestors come from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

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Hispanic Heritage Month spawns reflection


Sept. 15-Oct. 15 marks a a month of pride and tradition for millions of individuals in the United States whose ancestors come from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The origins of Hispanic Heritage Month began when President Lyndon B. Johnson carved out a week for its observance in 1968. After 20 years, President Ronald Reagan extended the celebration to encompass a whole month out of the year. It was officially enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988.

Today, there are estimated to be over 60 million individuals of Hispanic descent in the U.S. According to city-data.com, 21.7% of Madison County is Hispanic (as of 2017).

The first day of observance, Sept. 15, holds special significance since it marks the anniversary of independence in Latin American nations Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.

“Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the many contributions, diverse cultures and extensive histories of the American Latino community,” said Melissa Hinojosa of Madisonville, who is of Hispanic descent and provided the Meteor with notable facts about the commemoration as well as her personal perspective.

Hinojosa began by clarifying why the term Hispanic is used opposed to Latino.

“The term ‘Hispanic’ refers to those that come from a Spanish speaking country (Spain, or any Latin American country),” said Hinojosa. “Latinos are those that have ancestors originating from a Latin American country, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, etc. That excludes places like Spain.”

Hinojosa is 26 and a junior at Sam Houston State University, where she studies physics and philosophy. She is also a foreman at Monterey Mushrooms and has her real estate license. She is deeply involved in the community and ran for a position on the Madisonville CISD school board in 2019.

She also stated she is preparing to run for local office again next year, but did not clarify which.

Hinojosa went on to explain what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her as a second generation American as well as the culture’s growing place in local society.

“It means understanding our family’s culture and history,” said Hinojosa. “My mother’s parents immigrated to Madisonville over 40 years ago. When they first arrived, there was only one other Hispanic family in town.”

Since this time, the Hispanic population in Madisonville has grown to more than 21 percent.

“It means appreciating the hard work and contributions of the Hispanic community,” said Hinojosa. “We are lucky enough that only a few miles south of downtown we have our very own agricultural farm where over 95% of the harvesters are Hispanic. The work is often back-breaking, so this month we thank them for not only all of their hard work but their sacrifices, as well.”

Larger cities will commemorate the month with celebrations such as parades with Mariachi music and the traditional Mexican dance, Folklorico, according to Hinojosa.

“Growing up, I remember our elementary school would participate in an event that included (Folklorico) and Mariachi music,” said Hinojosa. “Our district not longer participates in that, but I appreciate all the years they did.”

She stated the food to be one of her favorite parts of her culture, including tamales, menudo, posole, asado, birra, pupusas, baleadas, tajadas, fiambre, gallo pinto, ceviche and more.

“The diversity and positive impact the Hispanic community has left in our country is something I am extremely proud of,” said Hinojosa. “I would like to take the time to thank a member of our community who recently passed and did so much to help other Latinos in our community, Blancita Reyes. Gracias por todo lo que hico. This Hispanic heritage month we would also like to thank all our first responders, frontline workers, and essential workers for all their hard work these past few months. Gracias por todo lo que hacen.”

Hispanic Heritage Month may end in October, but the celebrations continue throughout the end of the year. Nov. 1 marks the start of a two-day celebration of the Day of the Dead, which honors deceased loved ones, and Dec. 12 marks el Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, which honors the Catholic Saint Our Lady of Guadalupe.