MARADMINS : 433/18
R 071815Z AUG 18
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC MRA MP//
SUBJ/2018 NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH//
REF/A/PUBLIC LAW 90-498/17SEP1968/NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE WEEK//
REF/B/PUBLIC LAW 100-402/17AUG1988/AMENDMENT TO PL 90-498/NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH//
REF/E/SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR LATINO INITIATIVES/ U.S. LATINO PATRIOTS: FROM THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION TO AFGHANISTAN//
POC/T. M. VELAZQUEZ/CIV/UNIT: MPE/-/TEL: (703)784-9371/TEL: DSN 278-9371/TEL: COMM (703)784-9371//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. On 17 August 1988, the 100th Congress approved and President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law 100-402. This expanded Hispanic Heritage Week into a 31-day observance from September 15th through October 15th, which is recognized as “National Hispanic Heritage Month.” During Hispanic Heritage Month, we take the opportunity to honor all Americans of Hispanic roots and to acknowledge their ongoing contributions to the success and development of our Nation. Throughout the decades, generations of Hispanics have profoundly influenced American history and culture through their dedication to family; devotion of faith; commitment to hard work; contributions in all aspects of American life; and selflessness in military service. They have contributed to our Nation’s indelible character through the sharing of centuries-old traditions, which stem from many global, multi-cultural communities. The observance theme for 2018 is: “One Endless Voice to Enhance Our Traditions.”
2. An Act of Independence was signed on 15 September 1821 proclaiming Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) independent from Spain. Chile and Mexico also gained their independence from Spain during mid-September 1810, and Belize became independent from Great Britain on 21 September 1981. As a consequence of these historic events, it was decided that Hispanic Heritage Month straddle two months.
3. Hispanic Heritage Month provides the opportunity to acknowledge the diversity of our Nation and the Marine Corps. Precise record keeping about Hispanic participation in military service started only after the Vietnam Era; however, Hispanics have historically served our Nation since the American Revolution and have often received the Nation’s highest honors in appreciation for their service and sacrifice.
4. Among our Nation’s Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients, there are thirteen Marines of Hispanic descent; eleven enlisted and two officers. The first Hispanic enlisted Marine to receive the MOH was PFC France Silva for his actions during the Boxer Rebellion, Peking, China from June 28 to August 17, 1900. Born in Hayward, California in 1876, PFC Silva joined the Marine Corps in 1899 and served on the USS Newark cruiser in the Legation Guards. During the Siege of Peking, PFC Silva stubbornly remained on duty at the Legation Wall despite receiving serious wounds from his elbow to his sternum. PFC Silva survived his wounds, and he later survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake where he lost his original medal and citations. He died in California at age 74 in 1951.
5. 1stLt Baldomero Lopez was the first officer of Hispanic descent to receive the MOH. He was also the subject of one of the Korean War's most unforgettable images where he was captured exposing himself to hostile fire when scaling a seawall during the amphibious invasion of Inchon on September 15, 1950. Moments after the iconic photo was taken, 1stLt Lopez sacrificed his life by smothering a hand grenade with his wounded body. For his selfless action, he was posthumously awarded the MOH. Born in Tampa, Florida in 1925, he joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). Graduating in 1947, he was commissioned a Marine Corps Officer and subsequently served as an infantry officer in China during 1948. 1stLt Lopez volunteered to serve in Korea as a platoon commander in A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced). There are several memorials in Florida dedicated to 1stLt Lopez and the USNA maintains a dormitory room in Bancroft Hall dedicated to him.
6. LCpl Jose Francisco Jimenez is the first foreign-born Marine to receive the MOH. While his mother was working in Arizona for the Mexican government, LCpl Jimenez completed his high school education and volunteered to serve the United States during the Vietnam War. On August 28, 1969, while assigned as a Fire Team Leader with Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, LCpl Jimenez gallantly faced heavy enemy fire and sacrificed his life. LCpl Jimenez, a Mexican national, was originally buried in Michoacan, Mexico in 1969, but he was reinterred with full honors in Glendale, Arizona in 2017 beside his mother. The Marine Barracks in Rota, Spain is named in his honor.
7. The Marine Corps honors the historic and continued contributions of Marines with Hispanic lineage through the Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship. LtGen Pedro A. del Valle is acknowledged as the first Hispanic Marine Corps Lieutenant General. Born on San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1893, he later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1915. During WWII in 1945, he was the CG, 1st Marine Division for the Battle of Okinawa.
8. During this observance month, commanders are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the invaluable service and selfless contributions Hispanics, both military and civilian, give to our Country and Corps. Commanders are further encouraged to conduct programs and promote participation in observance events within their commands and across their local communities.
9. Release authorized by BGen W. H. Swan, Division Director, Manpower Plans and Policy.//