Hilbert Morales | EL OBSERVADOR
Photo Credit: Unsplash

The idea for National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, was proposed as a way to promote, recognize and place in context the rich history, vibrant diverse inclusive culture and many contributions of Hispanic-Latino Americans. These people, their Spanish language plus indigenous languages (Aztec, Mixtec, Toltec, Mayan, etc., and their cultural values and related ancestral practices happened in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. (Source: Wikipedia).

During this period from September 15 to October 15th each year since 1968, the many contributions of Hispanic-Latinos(as) were highlighted to give credit to those from whom efforts and insights originated.

Many do not realize that Mexico was sympathetic and supportive of the American Revolution which resulted in its independence as a new nation. In fact, General George Washington’s troops received their pay because Mexican gold arrived in time to pay the troops just before the battle which defeated the British army.

In addition, during the Civil War (1862-64), Mexico’s Navy blockaded British ships thereby preventing British troops and military supplies from being placed along the Atlantic seaboard, especially in Florida.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.

Hispanic Heritage Months Activities include parties, dances, and speeches. At schools, Hispanic-Latino students may be asked to tell their classmates about their family’s history and recent experiences.

This is the perfect chance to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic-Latino Americans. We all need to learn about Hispanic history and culture in general because the entire South-Western region of America (some 500,000 square miles) were formerly part of the Mexican nation. There are a lot of materials out there we never get to know when only WASP teachers plan the historical curriculum of our schools! IT IS TIME WE, THE LATINO PEOPLE SPEAK UP!

It is up to each Latino to learn about their family’s journey from Spain, Mexico, or any other Latino nation. That journey currently ends here in this community. As a youth I constantly heard during recesses or lunch periods about the family journey from Europe or elsewhere. It is time each of us makes the effort to talk to our own parents, just ask them to tell you ‘How did our family end up here?’

In the case of my Morales family, my father, Toribio Morales, of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico was involved in the 1910 Civil Revolution and was advised to leave that community before he was killed by opponents. So, he migrated north and ended up in Gary, Indiana where I was born and raised. My brother Frank still has my Dad’s pistol (a six-gun with a six-inch barrel).

These family history anecdotes are valuable because they illustrate that we Latino folks have been actively involved in the struggle to achieve democratic governance and the personal freedoms we all take for granted. It is this history which our current president, Mr. Donald J. Trump, simply is totally ignorant and uninformed about. So, as the current U.S. President, he is moving funds from 127 programs to enable him to build a wall which restricts our access to this nation. As a WASPish supremacist whose superiority complex warps his ability to see Latinos and their historical and cultural significance in the formation of America’s former Wild West.

Trump is unable to see and take note of Latinos as an important segment of the American citizenry. It is up to us to stand up and insist on having our Federal Government continue to deliver those services our taxes underwrite: School lunches; health care; social services; a fair and equitable justice system; and access to education and employment which pays a living wage.

All these programs did not exist some 100 years ago, they were defined, developed, and sustained by We, The People!

So, the struggle to keep what goods and services we create, and support will continue as long as national leaders such as Trump get elected and begin to favor his crony’s.

This is the same struggle (la lucha) which we Latinos have fought for. It is our community which had 60 Congressional Medal of Honor awardees for actions and bravery above and beyond expectations. And we must understand that in the American Democracy, continuing vigilance and monitoring is required because a few new immigrants, usually from Northern Europe, try to find ways to limit our access to vote; to opportunity, and to education.

We must constantly push back because We Belong Here! That is the main message of Hispanic Heritage Month. We must remind those who want to limit our access and opportunity, that WE BELONG HERE! WE HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AND FOLLOW THE SAME LAWS AND IDEALS WHICH BEGIN WITH THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.

In America, we residents must be committed to sustaining and maintaining the ideals of equal treatment under the laws of this land’, equal status (one person; one vote); and access to the necessities of good living styles.

Our people have paid the price with sweat, blood and tears. That is something which Mr. Trump cannot claim for his lawyers engineered five draft deferments; he has never served in any public office nor in the military service of this land. So, We, The Latinos must have the resolve to limit him to just one term by voting our minds this coming March 2020 election.

 By speaking up, voting, and being dignified, respectful residents and citizens, we can demonstrate what democracy is all about. The current Trump Administration certainly is not doing that, and in fact its efforts to build that wall will create a monument to their arrogant stupidity and non-inclusion of our people, their language, and their culture. BE PROUD, BE FAIR, TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM TREAT YOU.

Dignity and respect are earned at home with practice and humility. Enjoy this year’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month, and understand that our Latinos earned it, merit it, and deserve that much if not more.

Despite changing climates which are denied by Trump Administration, we are patriots who continue to serve, support and sustain this American Democracy. WE BELONG HERE! THIS IS OUR HOME!