National Hispanic Heritage Month

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National Hispanic Heritage Month is the time period from September 15 to October 15, when the American people recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, and celebrate their histories, cultures and contributions to the nation's well-being. The 31-day period encompasses the celebrations of Columbus Day or Dia de La Raza (October 12), the anniversary of independence of five Central American Countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) on September 15, Mexico on September 16, Chile on September 18, and Belize on September 21.

President Lyndon B. Johnson started Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Congress approved Public Law 90-498 on September 17, 1968, which authorized and requested the President to issue an annual proclamation designating the week, including September 15 and 16, as National Hispanic Heritage Week. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan requested Congress to expand it so that it would cover a 31-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

Hispanic Heritage Month also celebrates the long and important presence of Hispanic Americans in North America, starting with the discovery of America by Spanish conquistadors led by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492. A map of late 18th century North America shows this presence, from the small outpost of San Francisco founded in the desolate wilderness of Alta California in 1776, through the Spanish province of Texas with its vaqueros (cowboys), to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the first continuous European settlement in North America, founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.

Spanish explorers traveled further north along the Pacific Coast to Canada in 1774 and by the late 18th century had established a military post on Vancouver Island, 350 miles north of Seattle. The Spanish sailed up the Atlantic Coast through the Chesapeake Bay in 1526, then called the Bahía de Santa María, about 80 years before the romanticized English encounter with Pocahontas. In the 1520s Spanish navigators also explored as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the present site of Bangor, Maine. The Spanish settled the future southwestern United States in the 16th century and officially founded Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1610. As part of the Treaty of Paris (1763) peace settlement of the French and Indian War, the territories west of the Mississippi River, including Louisiana and New Orleans, were ceded to the Spanish.

Hispanics have made and continue to make significant cultural and scientific contributions and have invested themselves in the promotion and advancement of human rights and peace. Below are listed the 23 Nobel Laureates of Hispanic descent who since 1901 have received international recognition for their contribution to the sciences, to literature and to the promotion and advancement of peace. This year's theme, "Hispanics: Serving and Leading Our Nation with Pride and Honor," best characterizes the character, values and uniqueness of people of Hispanic descent.

  • Mario Vargas Llosa, Spain, Literature , 2010
  • Pablo Neruda (Ricardo E. Neftalí Reyes y Basoalto), Chile, Literature, 1971
  • Mario J. Molina, México, Chemistry, 1995
  • Luis Federico Leloir, Argentina, Chemistry, 1970
  • Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala, Peace, 1991
  • Luis Walter Alvarez, Hispanic American, Physics, 1968
  • Octavio Paz, México, Literature, 1990
  • Miguel Angel Asturias, Guatemala, Literature, 1967
  • Camilo Jose Cela, Spain, Literature, 1989
  • Severo Ochoa, Spain, Medicine and Physiology, 1959
  • Oscar Arias, Costa Rica, Peace, 1987
  • Juan Ramon Jimenez, Spain, Literature, 1956
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia, Literature, 1982
  • Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga), Chile, Literature, 1945
  • Alfonso Garcia Robles, México, Peace, 1982
  • Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Argentina, Peace, 1936
  • Cesar Milstein, Argentina, Medicine and Physiology, 1980
  • Jacinto Benavente y Martinez, Spain, Literature, 1922
  • Baruj Benacerraf, Venezuela, Medicine and Physiology, 1980
  • Bernardo Houssay, Argentina, Medicine and Physiology, 1917
  • Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentina, Peace, 1980
  • Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Spain, Medicine and Physiology, 1906
  • Vicente Aleixandre, Spain, Literature, 1977
  • Jose Echegaray, Spain, Literature, 1901

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"The Nobel prizes - The NSF Connection"

Nobel_Prize_Medal_385KBThis year we take special pleasure also in recognizing our valued members, the National Science Foundation (NSF), in Arlington, Va, but soon to be relocated to the City of Alexandria, VA, for their support of basic research in the social, physical and biological sciences.

NSF was established as an independent federal agency in 1950 "to promote the progress of science," largely by supporting fundamental (or basic) research. Today, NSF makes more than 10,000 new awards each year to encourage discovery at the frontiers of knowledge. Knowledge for its own sake is often reward enough, and its outcome can't be predicted. But it often leads to breakthroughs like those recognized by the Nobel prizes. The result of NSF support is reflected, in part, by the large number of NSF-supported scientists who have been awarded the Nobel prize, including several scientists of Hispanic descent.

When a scientist who has received federal funding is awarded the Nobel prize, the public can share the pride as well as the research benefits. Some 204 laureates have been supported by the public through grants from NSF (and often from other federal agencies) at some point in their careers – and sometimes throughout their careers. By the time they are recognized internationally, their early fundamental research has developed implications for such broad areas as the environment, business, and decision-making.

NSF's contributions reflect its focus on fundamental research: Its share of federal funding for basic academic research in physical sciences (including physics and chemistry) is 40 percent, non-health-related biology is 66 percent and social sciences is 52 percent.

Please visit NSF's "The Nobel prizes - The NSF Connection" to learn more about how federal support of basic research advances the physical and social sciences and enriches our understanding of the natural world.

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Read 3835 times Last modified on Sunday, 20 December 2015 19:42

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