Secretary Preston at the
Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
REMARKS PREPARED FOR
STEVE PRESTON, SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2008
Thank you, Anna (Guido). I also want to thank the Hispanic Heritage Committee for all of your hard work. Good job. Excellent planning.
And I thank Deputy Secretary Bernardi for his welcome.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming. I am delighted to be here, to join in this celebration of America’s Hispanic and Latino contributions to our nation. Hispanic Heritage Month is about recollection, learning, appreciation, and the future. We remember great figures in our history and culture. We learn from their experiences and accomplishments. We find inspiration and motivation. And we rely on our past to create the future. As one writer said, “there is no creation without tradition.” I believe that is true…our heritage is the foundation upon which we build our nation’s future.
So this is more than a celebration and education. Hispanic Heritage Month is a perennial step forward, a journey from a proud and profound past into the America that is to come.
I am especially pleased that Yvette Fernandez is joining us. Yvette, thank you for coming. Welcome to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I read a recent article about your life. I am so impressed at your commitment to our nation, both in government service and in your non-profit work. I look forward to your remarks.
I also want to thank Sambos Caporales from Bolivia. Thank you for sharing your joy and your skill with us. You are wonderful ambassadors for your country. Your choreography and enthusiasm give life to a beautiful form of expression and art. Welcome to our department.
And I want to say something about a special guest, Senator Mel Martinez. Mel, you were a great Secretary of our department, a memorable leader. Now, in the Senate, you still serve HUD constituents. I just want you to know that all of us at HUD follow your work carefully. In fact, some of the staff call you “Senator Secretary Martinez” because you remain a strong advocate for housing and urban renewal. And I thank you for all of the advice and counsel you gave me during my confirmation hearings.
I also want to take a moment to thank the many HUD employees of Hispanic ethnicity. You make our programs even stronger, more aware of the needs of Hispanic/Latino Americans. You make this department nobler, better, and more inclusive. The diversity at HUD makes us all more successful in our work. I thank you for your commitment to service and your steadfast dedication to our mission at HUD.
So this month is a welcome addition to our service efforts. Hispanic Heritage Month allows us to reflect on the Hispanic American experience. In history, Spain led the pilgrimage to the New World. Florida and California and other parts of the North American continent were originally explored and settled by the Spanish. The art, architecture, city planning, and culture of Spain quickly came to our shores.
In fact, one commentator has written that “the Hispanic world did not come to the United States, the United States came to the Hispanic world.” Indeed we did, embracing our Hispanic past as the country grew and expanded.
And we have given something new and vital to the world: Hispanic American culture. That same commentator added, “A whole civilization with a Hispanic pulse has been created in the United States.” That is true. Our nation grew and matured with a Spanish influence, with indispensable contributions by Hispanic Americans. From the beginning, Spanish was a language of commerce and trade, as well as a voice in music and in literature. And our Hispanic civilization will continue to be important as long as there is an America, because it is authentically American, an indispensable part of our lives.
Well, this month we will learn about the people who made that happen, learn about their lives, their accomplishments, and the legacy. And, today we inaugurate a series of activities at HUD to help us learn and appreciate. We are off to a good start. Now, we turn to our speakers today. They will help inspire and motivate us. There are other events this month throughout the metropolitan area and across the country. I strongly encourage each employee and every American to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn about Hispanic/Latino Americans who have helped shape our history.