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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

September 17, 2020

By Luis Navarro

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15 to October 15. Communities across the country celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens and residents of Hispanic or Latin-American ancestry who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  

September 15 is significant as the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18. Día de la Raza (also known as “Race day”), on October 12, celebrates the diverse indigenous and European heritage of the people of Mexico. 

Moreover, Fiestas Patrias is a Spanish phrase meaning “Patriotic Holidays.” It refers to the celebration of the independence of Mexico, Chile, and Guatemala. In Mexico it Is not only the celebration of independence, but it can be also called the Month of the Motherland, (Mes de la Patria).  

Fiestas Patrias celebration at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in 2018.

I grew up in Costa Rica where our independence celebrations are full of joy and pride. Whether in small towns or cities, children lead parades to the plaza. There is no school or work that day. We dance in traditional costumes, share meals with friends and family, and revel in the merriment and connecting to people with shared heritage.  

This year is different due to COVID-19 where celebrations are virtual. My great nieces and nephews performed for our family over video in their colorful regalia. While online due to the pandemic, I still felt the same anticipation, pride, and connection to our culture, traditions and country.  

In the U.S., Hispanic Heritage Month usually includes public events, parades and gatherings for learning and celebration Latino heritage. Many of those moved to virtual experiences.  

Nationally, Hispanics represent 18 percent of the U.S. population, or 60 million people. In Washington state the Latinx community represent over 13 percent of the population or, almost one million individuals who identify as Hispanic.  

Also, in Washington state, the Latinx community is a young and growing population.   

Hispanic Heritage Month at the Port of Seattle

At the Port of Seattle, Hispanics work in the various divisions and levels of the organization. The Port’s employee resource group, Latinos Unidos, is a self-initiated, voluntary group of employees that come together to educate and connect the Port to the Latinx community. The Port is committed to outreach to Latino people for employment opportunities and for contracting opportunities.   

During Hispanic Heritage Month Latinos Unidos is hosting a series of weekly virtual events that are a mix of cultural events and speakers. The events will discuss topics like the impact of COVID-19 as well as economic and political power and trade opportunities. Special guests and speakers include the Consul of Mexico, the Honorable Hector Ivan Godoy Priske, former Mariners player and Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, the Honorable Claudia Gatica, Consul of Guatemala, and Matias Valenzuela, Public Health - Seattle & King County Director of Community Mitigation and Recovery, COVID-19 Response and Equity.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck, Consul of México, and Edgar Martinez speaking virtually on September 15, 2020.

While COVID-19 required a shift in our celebrations to honor physical distancing, we remain engaged on important issues for the Latinx community.  

Here are a few resources that will help you explore Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate and honor Hispanic people: 

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