Posted by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
This year’s theme for National Hispanic Heritage Month is: “Hispanics: Be Proud of your Past and Embrace the Future”. We join with our Hispanic American colleagues in celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of Hispanic Americans to our country. As one of the fastest growing minority populations in the country, Hispanic Americans’ rich history and cultural diversity enhances American culture and society. Their origins span many countries across multiple continents, all with unique cultures and customs. Through an emphasis on family, hard work and perseverance, the Hispanic American community has made a lasting impact on our Department and our Nation.
Now the largest minority group in the United States, the Hispanic population reached a record 60.6 million in 2019, accounting for 18% of the total population. And forecasts project that the number of Hispanics in our country could exceed 100 million by 2060. The growing Hispanic community adds to the diversity of our country.
Over the years, Hispanic Americans have advanced in all fields and industries in our nation. From elected officials, legislators, senators and representatives at federal, state, and local levels, to astronauts, artists, mathematicians, engineers, lawyers, doctors, professors, performers, including industry and government executives such as Oscar Munoz, the executive chairman of United Airlines and the first Hispanic CEO of a major U.S. airline, to Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña who served from 1993 to 1997. And of course, the first Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration was Lieutenant General Elwood Richard “Pete” Quesada.
We continue to see growing numbers of Hispanic Americans within our own workforce and in the transportation sector. Hispanic Americans are increasing their representation in the trucking industry which has been so pivotal in keeping our economy open and running this year during COVID-19. In fact, FMCSA has the largest number of Hispanic employees among all of the Department’s operating administrations with Hispanic or Latino employees making up nearly one quarter of their total workforce. Federal Highways has the second highest Hispanic workforce, and we have seen notable strides being made in the critically important aviation sector.
Hispanic Americans have also demonstrated their deep patriotism having shown a long history of answering the call to serve in our military. They have served with valor in our armed forces since the Civil War. Today, they account for nearly 16% of all active-duty service members, and are the fastest growing population in the military.
The Hispanics in Transportation affinity group is planning to host a discussion on Hispanic Americans’ contributions at all levels of the transportation industry. Through opportunities like workshops and seminars, the Department continues to pursue ways to help traditionally underserved communities, including Americans of Hispanic and Latino ancestry, access resources and advance within the federal system.
Together, we celebrate the past, present and future contributions of Hispanic Americans to our country!
Elaine L. Chao