Celebrating our Elders and Recognizing America's Hispanic Roots

The first weekend of September signifies the end of summer for most Americans with the arrival and celebration of Labor Day.   Children are back in school and the weather finally begins to cool down.  However, summer doesn’t officially end until the Fall Equinox occurs on September 23. (An equinox happens twice a year during the spring and fall; occurring when the sun crosses the equator making day and night approximately the same length).


The first Sunday after Labor Day is National Grandparents Day and is set aside to recognize the importance of grandparents to our society.  National Grandparents Day originated in 1970 when a West Virginia housewife, Marian McQuade, began to campaign for a special day to be set aside for honoring grandparents.   After much campaigning, she became successful in her efforts at the state level when West Virginia Governor Arch Moore declared the first Grandparents Day in 1973.  From there, Senator Jennings Randolph took the resolution for the establishment of Grandparents Day to the United States Senate.  However, it wasn’t until 1978, and additional campaigning assisted by the media, that the US Congress passed the legislation and President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation decreeing the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day.  The month of September was chosen for the holiday to represent the “autumn years” of life.


The US Census Bureau (2006) reports that about 56 million grandparents live in the United States.  Of that number, 5.7 million grandparents have grandchildren under the age of 18 living with them.  Grandparents also provide childcare for 28% of preschoolers with mothers employed outside the home making this the most common type of childcare arrangement in the US.


As we remember the heritage and contributions of grandparents to our society, we also recognize September as home to Hispanic Heritage Month beginning Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.  September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Also, Mexico proclaimed its’ independence on September 16 with Chile following on September 18.


Originally, in September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a National Hispanic Heritage Week observed during the week including September 15 and 16.  In 1988, the celebration was extended to a month continuing into October and including Columbus Day.


During the month-long celebration, Americans celebrate the cultures and traditions of those people who trace their hispanic roots to Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.


The theme chosen for Hispanic Heritage Month 2007 is “Hispanic Americans:  Making a Positive Impact on American Society”.    The US Census Bureau reported that as of July 1, 2006, Hispanics compose 15 percent of the nation’s total population with an estimate of 44.3 million people.  As of 2005, only Mexico and Colombia had larger Hispanic populations than the United States.  Businesses owned by Hispanics have tripled (1997-2002) at 31% compared with the national average of 10% for all businesses.


Many communities across the nation conduct events recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month.  Check your local newspaper, library, or the Internet for celebrations taking place in your area to commemorate the many contributions of Hispanics everywhere.


Additional Resources for September: