The United States has an estimated population of 323 million people, with Latinos comprising 17 percent of the American family. For the last 48 years, the United States has designated Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to honor the contributions that Latinos have made to strengthen and enrich the United States, and make it one of the most diverse and prosperous nations on earth.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month on the eve of a national election is an opportunity for the country to reflect on the impact Latinos have on American culture, community, and politics. More than 55 million Latinos living in every corner of the country, with a purchasing power exceeding $1.5 trillion, are at the intersection of all facets of American life.
In communities across the country, Latinos of all generations lead as veterans, athletes, entertainers, artists, business leaders, innovators, elected officials and many other vocations. Congress has more Latino members than ever before, and this year, with millions of Latinos living in numerous critical states, the path to the White House must go through the Hispanic vote.
As we contemplate our Latino history and role in this country, it’s important to recognize the values that form the bedrock of our community and connect us to the broader American family. We are a welcoming culture that places family at the center of our lives and values humility, tradition and a strong work ethic.
While we take pride in individual responsibility, the most important characteristic that binds our community together is our collective worldview: the belief that we overcome challenges when we face them together, that our life trajectory is more fulfilling when we bring our community along with us and that we can thrive without leaving behind the rich layers of our culture.
This belief in inclusivity and commitment to family values reinvigorates the American Dream and protects the promise that it holds. When we look beyond the dividing lines, we see that all Americans live by these values as well.
This month, as we celebrate the many achievements of Hispanic Americans, we remind everyone to use their influence by fulfilling their personal responsibility to vote in local, state and federal elections. With more than 27 million eligible Latino voters nationally, Hispanic Americans must remember our nation’s ideal of freedom and opportunity for all, and exercise our hard earned, sacred right to vote.