Hispanic Heritage Month
By Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres
September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, which traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on what makes Latinos such a strong, contributing force in America. Latinos were among the earliest European settlers in the New World, and Latinos as a people, like their many cultures, share a rich history and great diversity.
Latinos have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their commitment to family, faith, patriotism, hard work and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
Thanks to our Latino community and cuisine, we played a part when Tucson became the first City of Gastronomy as designated by UNESCO. You can see Latino influence on culture from here to New York but we think very little of it.
With more than 50 million Latinos across the United States, Latinos now make up the largest minority group and represent billions in buying power. Latinos also represent the fastest growing segment of the American electorate.
In Arizona, Raul Castro served as our first Latino Governor in the 1970’s. In 1991, Ed Pastor was the first Latino elected to represent Arizona in the U.S. Congress. Today there are two Latinos in Congress representing Arizona: Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego. The City of Tucson elected its first Latina Mayor in 2019, Regina Romero.
In Tucson and Pima County, Latinos have sent a strong message by turning out to vote and leading the state in the number of Latinos that have been elected to governing bodies. In a recent article in “Inside Tucson Business,” entitled “Hispanics a Key to Tucson’s Rebound,” it discussed the importance of buying power of the Latino Community in Tucson, Pima County and throughout Arizona.
It noted, “the Latino impact on the local and national economy and that their purchasing power represents $8 billion per year in Pima County, a number that is expected to increase by 88% in the next decade.” By 2024, Latinos are estimated to spend $14 billion in the Tucson economy, equating to 28 percent of the total market spending.
Hispanics are the largest group that has earned the Medal of Honor and have a wall dedicated with their names and how they earned their accommodations at the Pentagon. Sixty-one men of Hispanic heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the most of all groups. Of which, two were presented to members of the United States Navy, thirteen to members of the United States Marine Corps and forty-six to members of the United States Army. Forty-two Medals of Honor were presented posthumously.
Hard work, resilience, perseverance, patriotism and family have made our Latino community great and one with a remarkable heritage.
As we mark National Hispanic Heritage Month this year, we must remember those from our families and community that we have lost from the COVID-19 virus.