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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: What National Hispanic Heritage Month means to me in one word

Hispanics are the nation’s second largest population group

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National Hispanic Heritage Month is not only a time to look back at the achievements and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans, but it is also a celebration of hope for what is to come. We are pressing forward toward a bright future in which we will be the ones to inspire and achieve greatness in every sector of the United States of America. 

Long before Jamestown or Plymouth Rock, we made our home here. We are the nation’s second largest population group, and we have held our own against racism, prejudice and ridicule because of our unshakable hope in the future.

Because of our hope that better days are ahead, we work tirelessly for a better life for ourselves and for our loved ones. Because of this hope, more of our children and grandchildren are pursuing higher education. 

Those of us who are eligible to vote account for 13.3% of all eligible voters in the United States and we turned out in force for the 2020 elections. Hope motivates us to vote, to make ourselves heard in the public square. We don’t need lax voting laws to spur us to vote. We are capable of acquiring legal identification cards and registering to vote. To say otherwise is both condescending and racist.

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Watching our friends and family members in other nations struggle under socialism and communism has strengthened our belief in free markets and self-determination. We have become the vaccine this nation needs to fight the present-day ideological virus that is trying to undermine the Constitution and reduce this nation to a socialist state.

As National Hispanic Heritage Month also commemorates the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, we are ever mindful that millions of Hispanics and Latinos still fight for their independence daily. 

When our Cuban brothers and sisters marched for freedom, their slogans were neither rhetorical nor utopian. They marched against the ongoing inhumane policies of a repressive regime that should be rebuked, not applauded, by all people of conscience.

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We believe in human rights for all people, everywhere. We stand with those who say "Black lives matter" while rejecting any banner that exploits people’s hardships to advance a philosophy that is anti-Latino, anti-Christian or pro-communist. We decry statements made by the Black Lives Matter organization — one that openly embraces Marxism — when it expressed support for the communist government of Cuba.

We stand for individual liberties and the power of choice. Yet the Biden-Harris administration, state and local governments seek to mandate that workers be vaccinated. We hear news anchors say that we should not have access to health clubs, grocery stores or travel. After suffering disproportionately during the pandemic, we are now discriminated against because of our personal beliefs about our bodies. This is not only racist, it is cruel. These policies have an egregious impact on our communities. 

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More than 100,000 Hispanics and Latinos have lost their lives to COVID-19 since 2020, and as a result, thousands of our families were left permanently without breadwinners. In today’s economy, we are suffering the highest rates of unemployment, mostly among women. 

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Our families are hurting. The awful tragedy of this pandemic is being used to divide, not unite us. Political missiles are being lobbed in every direction. Statements and misstatements fly. 

But still, we have hope.

And because of our hope, we pledge our allegiance to family, to God and to country. We don’t believe in a theocratic state, but in a republic that strives for liberty and justice for all.

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We will be a part of making that vision a reality. 

That is our heritage. That is our history. That is our future. And that is why even in another difficult year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of hope. 

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