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Today marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a holiday to recognize the vital contributions made by Hispanic and Latino people living in the United States. Why does National Hispanic Heritage Month begin on September 15 and not at the start of the month? The date was chosen because September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras—places from which many Latin Americans in the US and their ancestors have immigrated. The monthlong celebration is marked with events throughout the country, from an annual festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to ceremonies within all branches of the US military.