By the President of the United States of America
Each year, we pause during National Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the many contributions that men and women of Spanish and Latin American descent have made to our country's history and culture.
Journeying to the New World nearly half a millennium ago, Spanish conquistadors were among the first Europeans to explore and establish settlements in what is now U.S. territory. In 1513, Ponce de León was the first European to discover Florida; in 1528, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first Spaniard to land on Texas soil; by 1565--more than 25 years before British colonists landed at Jamestown--the Spanish had established a permanent settlement at St. Augustine. By that time, other Spaniards, including Franciscan missionaries, had begun to explore the Southwest. During the second half of the 18th century, the Franciscans established a chain of missions along the California coast. These early mission sites, known as "El Camino Real," grew into the thriving cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Centuries after men such as Coronado and Father Junipero Serra journeyed into the vast, uncharted territory of the New World, the influence of the Spanish colonial empire remains evident in communities throughout the southern and western United States.
The rich legacy we celebrate during National Hispanic Heritage Month is not limited, however, to the magnificent architecture and fascinating history and folklore of the American Southwest. Over the years, Hispanic Americans have made their mark across the country and in virtually every aspect of American life.
Time and again throughout our Nation's history, Hispanic Americans--many of whom have come to this country in search of the freedom denied to them by repressive regimes in their ancestral homelands--have demonstrated their dedication to the ideals upon which the United States is founded. In peacetime, as well as in times of conflict and peril, they have faithfully defended the principles of freedom and representative government. They have worked for the advancement of human rights and democratic ideals around the world, and they have helped to support many of our neighbors in Central and South America and the Caribbean in their own struggles for liberty and self-determination.
With faith and hard work, Hispanic Americans have reaped the blessings of freedom and opportunity, building strong families and proud communities and earning positions of leadership in business, education, sports, science, and the arts. Hispanic Americans have also excelled in government, serving as councilmen, mayors, governors, and as members of State legislatures, the Congress, and the Cabinet.
In December of 1989, to help ensure that young Hispanic Americans have ample opportunities to develop and demonstrate their great talent and potential, I directed my Secretary, of Education, Dr. Lauro Cavazos, to form the Domestic Policy Council Task Force on Hispanic Education. The Task Force has worked to find ways to improve Federal education programs that serve Hispanic Americans. By enhancing the educational opportunities available to Americans of Spanish and Latin American descent, we can help to promote their continued social and economic advancement.
In recognition of the outstanding achievements of 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, 1990, and ending October 15, 1990, 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 twenty-fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifteenth.