The Navy is observing National Hispanic Heritage Month and highlighting the histories and accomplishments of Americans from Spanish-speaking countries.
As of June, approximately 59,000 active and reserve sailors of Hispanic heritage serve in the Navy — more than 15 percent of the service’s total strength.
The Navy’s Hispanic heritage includes Jorge Farragut, who was born on the Spanish island of Minorca and joined the South Carolina Navy in 1779. He is remembered as one of the first Hispanic Revolutionary War heroes.
His son, Adm. David Farragut, was instrumental in securing a Union victory in the pivotal Battle of New Orleans on April 28, 1862.
Sixty people of Hispanic heritage have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, including two Navy personnel and 13 Marines.
The San Diego-based USS Rafael Peralta was named in honor of Navy Cross recipient Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. Peralta, who was born in Mexico City, Mexico, immigrated to the United States with his family and completed high school in San Diego.
This year’s theme for the observance is “Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance our Traditions.”
The tradition of observing Hispanic heritage began in 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in mid-September. Twenty years later in 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended that week to a month-long observance.
The heritage month commemoration begins Sept. 15 because that is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico declared its independence on day later, on Sept. 16.
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