If you have ever visited Washington, D.C., or even looked into planning a trip to the nation’s capital, you know there are quite a few sights to see. Washington, D.C. is a hub for both American history and cultural exploration, from the U.S. Capitol building and the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, to memorials to great presidents and soldiers who fought in past wars.
Some of the most notable cultural attractions are the Smithsonian museums, where special artifacts, exhibits, historical memorabilia, and more are displayed for people around the world to experience. The National Air and Space Museum has an entire exhibit about the Wright Brothers’ first flight. The National Museum of American History hosts an entire wing dedicated to the First Ladies of the United States. The newest Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, contains important reminders about our country’s path to overcome past injustices and the awe-inspiring contributions of Black Americans to American culture.
These museums aim to capture the history and melting pot culture of the United States by making these relics and exhibits open to the public, free of charge. However, one very important part of our nation’s history is missing: the contributions of Latinos and Hispanic Americans.
Since coming to Congress, I have been proud to be an original cosponsor of the National Museum of the American Latino Act, which would finally establish the National Museum of the American Latino within the Smithsonian Institution. Growing up in Central Washington, I have experienced firsthand how Latino and Hispanic cultures are deeply integrated in our communities and how their contributions have made us a greater nation.
John Smithson, the founding father of the Smithsonian Institution, stated in his will that his estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington… an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
That is exactly what this legislation – and this museum – will do. In order to showcase a more complete American history, we must recognize Latino contributions to American history, life, art, and culture.
Latino Americans, throughout history, have played a significant role in building a stronger United States, and the Latino community is woven into the fabric of our country.
As Americans, we should always strive to learn more about our country’s founding and development. The National Museum of the American Latino will demonstrate that, as Americans, we cherish our unity and diversity, and it will finally highlight and celebrate the many contributions of our Latino neighbors.