Rep. Tony Cárdenas Latino Heritage

A black and white photo showing two farm workers bent over carrying potatoes in their hands in the middle of a field littered with bags of recently picked up legumes is a reminder to Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) of where he comes from and his Latino heritage.

“The painting of my father and my mother’s father that hangs in my office is a constant reminder of where I come from and who I am fighting for, every day. When my parents came from Jalisco (Mexico), they hadn’t made it past elementary school, but their kids are doctors, lawyers, engineers…even a Congressman. That is my heritage. That is Hispanic Heritage,” reads a passage also printed on the image posted on Cárdenas’ Twitter and Facebook page.

It’s was a fitting, as Cárdenas introduced legislation this week recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Latinos have enriched American life, through contributions in business, the military, education, philanthropy, government and the arts,” Cárdenas said, in announcing the resolution jointly with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in the House and the Senate.

“On behalf of my parents, who traveled to this country from Mexico with elementary school educations but raised a family of doctors, lawyers, businesspeople and even a Congressman, I am honored to introduce this resolution into the People’s House.”

Each year, the President designates Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the heritage and culture of Latinos in the United States and the immense contributions of Latinos to our nation.

The resolution discusses important economic impacts made by Latinos, spotlighting more than 3.2 million Hispanic-owned firms in the United States that supporting millions of employees and contribute more than $468 billion in revenue to the economy. Hispanic-owned companies represent the fastest-growing segment of small businesses in the United States, with Latino entrepreneurs starting businesses at more than twice the national rate.

Latinos serve in all branches of the military, and have bravely fought in every war in the history of the United States.

As of July 31, 163,636 Hispanic active duty service members served with distinction in the military. Sixty-one Latinos have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed on an individual serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The roots of Hispanic Heritage Month date back to 1968 and begins on Sept. 15, the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is Oct. 12.

According to the U.S. Census, 53 million people or 17 percent of the U.S. population, are of Hispanic or Latino origin. The largest majority of them — 65 percent — are of Mexican background, followed by Puerto Ricans (9.4 percent), Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans (3.8 percent), Cubans (3.6 percent) and Guatemalans (2.3 percent).