Portal:Hispanic and Latino Americans

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Hispanic and Latino Americans are an ethnolinguistic group of Americans with origins in the countries of Latin America or the Iberian peninsula. More generally it includes all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. Reflecting especially the Latin American population, which has origins in all the continents and many ancestries, Hispanic/Latino Americans are very racially diverse, and as a result form an ethnic category, rather than a race.

While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, Hispanic is a narrower term and refers mostly to persons of Spanish speaking origin or ancestry, while Latino is more frequently used to refer more generally to anyone of Latin American origin or ancestry, including Brazilians. Hispanic thus includes persons from Spain and Spanish speaking Latin Americans excluding both Portuguese and Brazilians (who speak Portuguese) while Latino excludes persons from Spain but includes both Spanish speaking and Portuguese-speaking Latin Americans. Persons from Portugal, and all other Portuguese-speaking peoples around the World outside the Americas (e.g. Cape Verdeans or Angolans), are neither Hipanic nor Latino. Latino is a broader term encompassing more people. The choice between the terms Latino and Hispanic among those of Spanish speaking origin is also associated with location: persons of Spanish speaking origins residing in the eastern United States tend to prefer the term Hispanic, whereas those in the West tend to prefer Latino.

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Major General Pedro del Valle (second from left) is greeted by Colonel "Chesty" Puller on Pavuvu in late October 1944, while Major General William H. Rupertus (far left) looks on
Hispanic Americans, also referred to as Latinos, fought in every major battle in the European Theatre of World War II in which the armed forces of the United States were involved, from North Africa to the Battle of the Bulge, and in the Pacific Theater of Operations, from Bataan to Okinawa. According to the National World War II Museum, between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, out of a total of 12,000,000, constituting 2.3% to 4.7% of the U.S. Armed Forces. The exact number is unknown as, at the time, Hispanics were not tabulated separately, but were generally included in the general white population census count. Separate statistics were kept for African Americans and Asian Americans.

On December 7, 1941, when the United States officially entered the war, Hispanic Americans were among the many American citizens who joined the ranks of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as volunteers or through the draft. Not only did Hispanics serve as active combatants in the European and Pacific Theatres of war, but they also served on the home front as civilians. Hundreds of Hispanic women joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), serving as nurses and in administrative positions. Many worked in traditionally male labor jobs in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and materiel, replacing men who were away at war. (more...)

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Gabriela Lemus.jpg
Gabriela D. Lemus is the executive director of the Progressive Congress, the non-profit partner organization affiliated with members of the Progressive Caucus since September 2013. Previously she was the director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Department of Labor from 2009 to 2013. She was born in Mexico City on January 23, 1963, to Guillermo Felix Lemus Covarrubias and Brenda Lemus Marcellini. She holds a BS in International Studies and Business Administration from St. Mary of the Woods College and a Ph.D. from the University of Miami. In 2012 she was appointed to the board of the University of the District of Columbia. (more...)

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