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1995 photo of Eusebio (son of Ursulo) and his wife Conception Perez with twelve of his combined eighteen children. 1968 on Hanna Street. Their seven children attended local Gilroy schools and all attended college and established them- selves in different careers. They include a dentist, teacher, psychologist, dental hygienist, computer technician, and entrepreneur. Uncles and brothers have all served with honor in every branch of the military beginning with WWII. They have fought every war the United States has fought since 1942. T he United States recognizes the period of September 15 to October 15, as National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating Latinos, their history and contributions to American culture. Initially the celebration began as a week- long period with legislation sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles) under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. This was eventually amended to include a thirty-day period sponsored by Rep. Esteban E. Torres (D-Pico Rivera) under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The start date of September 15 was chosen for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence for five Latino countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua which all declared their independence in 1821. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively. Historically, Latinos have played and will continue to play a crucial role in our nation. Latinos have contributed to every avenue of American life since the inception of this country. Latinos’ origins have played a key role in our country’s socio- economic, political and cultural development that many argue: What would America be like without the presence of Latinos and their influence? Stephen Balkaran, an instructor in of Political Science at Quinnipiac University, says, “The Latino GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN culture can be traced in the United States for over 500 years when California, Florida and the Southwest were discovered by Spanish explorers. Many of us are unaware that Latino culture had firm roots throughout this region long before the English arrived at Jamestown in 1607 or the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Massachusetts Bay in 1621. Latino culture and political development flourished well before the Founding Fathers envisioned the idea of securing their independence from Britain in 1776. Latino culture has helped to shape and define America’s early political development and established itself as viable presence in what was to be become the United State of America.” Latinos have defined and will redefining America and this might be because in sheer numbers Latinos are 57 million strong. Why celebrate and share our Latino heritage here in the United States and what has been its impact on American culture? And, you might ask yourself what are the contributions of Latinos in the United States today? There are obvious ones that easily come to mind. For example, you cannot pass a street, town, city or state name without it being Spanish in origin as Spanish colonization extended from California to Florida. You may hear Latinos/Non-Latinos speaking Spanish because in the United States it is the most often spoken lan- guage, second to English. The Spanish language has also given us a bunch of words that are Spanish in origin that are now mainstream and used in our everyday life. Words like rodeo, bonanza, corral, burro, vanilla, pronto and savvy are adapted from Spanish that English has absorbed into its own. Latino influence has extended into the entertainment industry and has given us Selena, Carlos Santana, Jennifer Lopez, Linda Ronstadt, Marc Anthony, Jenni Rivera, Benicio Del Toro, Sofia Vergara, and Antonio Banderas to name a few. Salsa, rumba, banda, the cha-cha has also changed the way we dance! SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 27