By the President of the United States of America
When we speak of our Hispanic heritage, we speak of more than one particular set of customs and traditions. Indeed, the Hispanic American heritage can be traced back to many different lands -- to places as far-flung as Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and Peru. Nevertheless, Americans of Spanish and Latin American descent share a great sense of pride in the deep cultural and historical ties that exist between them.
Rich and varied, the Hispanic American heritage is as old as the story of America itself. Daring Spanish navigators who explored the New World nearly half a millennium ago were the first Europeans to establish settlements in what is now United States territory. In fact, by 1565 -- almost half a century before British colonists landed at Jamestown -- the Spanish had established a permanent settlement at Saint Augustine, Florida. Traders and missionaries followed in the wake of explorers such as Coronado, Ponce de Leon, and Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, helping to open the American Southwest to further settlement and development.
Making use of the land's resources through farming, ranching, and mining, Spanish peoples shaped much of the Western frontier. Thriving communities took root around many Spanish missions, and today cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Santa Fe continue to bear evidence of their celebrated past. However, over the years, Hispanic Americans have made vital contributions in communities across the country and in virtually every field of endeavor.
Today Hispanic Americans are our Nation's fastest growing minority. The number of Hispanics in this country grew by 53 percent during the past decade, up from 14.6 million to 22.4 million. This means that Hispanics now constitute about 9 percent of our population.
Many Hispanic Americans have come to these shores as immigrants, seeking better lives for themselves and their children. The achievements of these men and women indicate that they have not taken liberty for granted. Today Hispanic Americans are reaping the rewards of hard work: more and more are entering the political, social, and economic mainstream of American life.
Hispanic Americans are eager to enjoy the blessings of freedom and economic opportunity because many have known the bitter reality of life without them. As a Nation, we must keep faith with them and continue working to ensure equal opportunity for all of our citizens. With that in mind, last September I signed the Executive Order on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. This order established a special Presidential Advisory Commission that will help to identify ways that the Federal Government can improve educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans.
The Congress, by Joint Resolution approved September 17, 1968, as amended by Public Law 100 - 402, has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating the month beginning September 15 and ending October 15 as "National Hispanic Heritage Month."
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month beginning September 15, 1991, and ending October 15, 1991, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 20 day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.