(KLST/KSAN)– Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated across the United States from Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th.

The purpose is to honor the history, culture, and influence of the past generations who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and both Central and South America.

The celebration starts in the middle of September to celebrate multiple important dates within the Hispanic culture. Starting with the independence of five countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala on Sept. 15th, then Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16th, followed by Chile’s on Sept. 18th.

Here at home, the San Angelo Hispanic Heritage Museum and Cultural Center kicked off the celebrations with performances by the Lake View High School Mariachi, along with San Angelo native, Tommy Torango, who paid tribute to Vicente Fernandez, and Damitas y Charritos de Fort Concho Elementary.

Cristian, a second grader, said his class practiced very hard for this performance. He said his favorite dances are “Los Machetes and Mexican Hat Dance.”

Guest Speaker, Lieutenant Mike Hernandez with the San Angelo Police Department spoke about his mother’s journey as an immigrant and highlighted some of his family’s contributions to the country.

“I’m very proud of the culture and we support it. I believe right now in San Angelo it’s about half Hispanic and to have seen her and what she did and how she contributed, it just gave me pride and so I wanted to continue that, and that’s basically why I introduced my grandson, because I just know he is going to continue where I leave off.”

Del Velasquez, President of the San Angelo Hispanic Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, said this is only the beginning.

“The Southside Lions Club is going to be hosting the Fiesta Patria Celebration at the Paseo, it starts at 6 o’clock,” Velasquez said. “Our big celebration will be at the Museum of Fine Arts, also at the River Stage and at Neffs Park.”