Celebrating heritage

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

Americans, as a whole, celebrate and respect the heterogeneous mix of the thousands of different heritages and cultures that create our diverse melting pot.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. West Point Cadets performed the Haka Dance during the eighth annual West Point Asian Pacific American Observance Celebration at Trophy Point. A Haka is a traditional posture dance form with shouted accompaniment of the Maori of New Zealand.

Almost every month of the year (sorry August) has a month-long observance in the United States, many celebrating the history and diversity of the people who make up this great land.

In all, there are 87 officially recognized month-long observations in the USA. As far as the breakdown of those observances go, May leads with 21, April has 16, October has 14, September has 10, November has 9, March has 6, February has 3, January has 2, December and July each have 1. Little old August doesn't have any month-long observances.

Among the observances are: Black History Month; LGBTQ+ Month; Irish-American Heritage Month; Arab American Heritage Month; Asian Pacific American Heritage month; Haitian Heritage Month; Jewish American Heritage Month; African-American Music Appreciation Month; Gospel Music Heritage Month; Hispanic Heritage Month; Filipino-American History Month; Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month; Polish American Heritage Month, as well as Native American/Alaska Native Heritage Month.

On March 7, 1982, the U.S. Congress passed Publication L. 97-28 to create Women's History Week, that eventually became Women's History Month, celebrated annually in March. This painting depicts a  Woman suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. March 3, 1913.

Let's take a look at the observances for each month of the year, some of which might surprise you.

January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, as declared by President Barack Obama on December 31, 2012.

February is Black History Month, as well as; American Heart Month, LGBTQ+ History Month, and, for those binocular wearing, dairy keeping birders, it's National Bird-Feeding month.

March is Women's History Month, Irish-American Heritage Month and the National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. It is also Mustache Month (get out the wax!). The month-long observances also include: Hexagonal Awareness Month, National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, as well as Youth Art Month.

March is Irish-American Heritage Month. The Chicago River is dyed green in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

April has a myriad of month-long observances. The main ones are Arab American Heritage Month, Autism Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. April also has one of the most controversial observances, Confederate History Month. Observances are only in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia. April 26 is Confederate Memorial Day. It was created in 1994 and is probably the least known "holiday". In 2010 West Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation resurrecting the month, much to the ire of many. 

May is blanketed with celebrations. Here are just a few of them: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, ALS Awareness month, Haitian Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage month and Mental Health Awareness month. Ontario, Canada has a month-long South Asian Heritage Month. In all, May has 23 month-long observances.

Asian American Pacific Heritage Month is in May.

June is more manageable as far as month-long observances go. You have African-American Music Appreciation Month, Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Month and National Safety Month. June is also when Juneteenth (June 19) is celebrated.

July has a single month-long observance. And, it's a good one: National Ice Cream Month. According to the history of the celebration on Wikipedia,"The celebrations were originated by Joint resolution 298 in the United States Senate, which was sponsored by Senator Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky on May 17, 1984 and Joint resolution 543 in the United States House of Representatives, which was sponsored by Representative Kika de la Garza of Texas on April 11, 1984. The resolution proclaimed the month of July 1984 as "National Ice Cream Month" and July 15, 1984, as 'National Ice Cream Day'. It was signed into public law by President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1984 with Presidential Proclamation 5219." Thank you, Mr. President!

Interestingly enough, August doesn't have any month-long observances. With some months having 25 or more observances, it makes you feel a tad bit of sympathy for August, sitting out there all on its own, with no observances.

September amps up the action, though. We have Amerindian Heritage Month (Guyana), Gospel Music Heritage Month, National Bourbon Heritage Month, National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, National Guide Dog month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, National Honey Month, National Preparedness Month, National Prostate Health Month, National Yoga Month and, finally, Pain Awareness Month.

October is busier than September, with 15 observances. Once again, we'll only mention a few; Breast Cancer Awareness Month; Filipino Heritage Month, Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month, LGBT+ History Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, Polish American Heritage Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For the foodies out there, it's also National Pizza Month! What a combo!

July is National Ice Cream Month and October is National Pizza Month! How about a National Chicken Fried Steak Month? August isn't busy, maybe we could get that as an observance for August.

November doesn't have quite as many observances as October. The month only has 9 observances, once again, we'll cover just a few; National American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month, COPD Awareness Month and National Academic Writing Month. Place your pencils and paper face down on your desk, please.

Native American Indian Heritage Month was created on August 3, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush

December has Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (November 27-December 3) and ends on Christmas Day.

Regardless of your ethnicity, heritage, culture, etc., there is a celebration and observance for everyone. Out here in west Texas we have one of the biggest celebrations of our diversity with Ballinger's Ethnic Festival. Thousands attend the festival every year. It's always held on the 4th Saturday in April. This year it is scheduled for April 24. There are foods from all around the globe, entertainment, a parade, and many more activities to celebrate the history and heritage of the people who make up this great land.