Every year, we have the opportunity to honor Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. It is a perfect time to celebrate the history, contributions and culture of American citizens whose ancestors came from Latin American countries.

Why exactly do we celebrate this month in the middle of two fall months? Our bicultural worlds helped determine the dates. September 15 is important because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18. Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, also falls within this 30 day period.

I decided this year to elevate Hispanic Heritage Month during a staff meeting with my colleagues. My intention is to share our rich, vibrant culture that is more than just great food and festivities. The Hispanic community continues its selfless sacrifice as we work in the fields to ensure Americans have food on the table during the pandemic. We continue to be the frontline workers caring for patients in hospitals in every community in the country. We are proud to serve in the military and no other ethnic group in America has been awarded more Medals of Honor per capita. We have served as governors, just like Raul Castro, the 14th Governor of Arizona in 1974. Castro was a Mexican American politician, diplomat and judge.

This month, I encourage you to learn new things about Hispanic history. You can appreciate our history while you’re eating tacos and listening to Peter Gene Hernandez (aka Bruno Mars) on your color tv invented by Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena. I invite you to try a new recipe influenced by Latin American flavors, find a new book to read that was written by a Hispanic author, or watch a film that was directed by a Latino filmmaker. Reflection and recognition are the most meaningful form of honor during this month of celebrating Hispanic Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month culture.

Together, we can all show our love to the Hispanic communities in this country, this month and every day.

Selena Llamas is the Southern Arizona Community Engagement Manager for Expect More Arizona, where she has been working for eight years. She is proud of her Mexican American culture and is a fourth generation Tucson native.