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Highlighting Hispanic Heroes

Veteran Leroy Quintana gained fame after military service. Drafted to serve in Vietnam in 1967, Quintana did at one point consider fleeing across the border into Canada. But his mother had instilled in him respect for military service, and he stayed on. Serving in the 101st Airborne at the height of U.S. involvement, he kept a notebook of his experiences on five-man reconnaissance teams. Quintana became a published, award-winning poet who sometimes uses his days in the service as inspiration for his work.

Columbus Coat of Arms mural, south wall The sailor's return. Lithograph by N. Currier, 1847

Following in the military tradition of his family dating to the 15th century in Spain and later in Mexico, Joseph Medina entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1972. In 2003, Medina was promoted to brigadier general, one of the first Hispanics to hold the rank in the U.S. Marine Corps. More recently, he commanded the Expeditionary Strike Group Three during Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which he was responsible for developing the Iraqi Coastal Defense Force.

These are just a couple of the stories featured in a special Web presentation that is part of an online resource page highlighting the Library’s collections about Hispanic Americans and their contributions and accomplishments. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.

The Hispanic and Portuguese collections of the Library of Congress comprise more than 10 million items and are believed to be the most extensive such collections in the world. The second "area studies division" to be founded by the Library, in 1939 the Hispanic Division was established to acquire Luso-Hispanic materials in a systematic fashion. In that same year, the division's reading room, The "Hispanic Society Reading Room," named after the New York Hispanic Society of America, was inaugurated to service the Library's growing collections.

The term "Luso-Hispanic" (derived from the Latin names for both entities of the Iberian Peninsula, i.e., Portugal was Lusitania and Spain was Hispania) encompasses Latin America, the Caribbean, Hispanics and Portuguese in the United States, the Iberian Peninsula, and other places where Iberian culture dominated and has survived. The Hispanic Division participates in the Library’s ongoing exhibition program and contributes to its digitized collections. Interesting online collections include Hispanic Americans in Congress, The Luso-Hispanic World in Maps, and Spanish-American Manuscripts from the Kraus Collection.

A. Columbus Coat of Arms mural, south wall. Hispanic Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction information not available.

B. The sailor's return. Lithograph by N. Currier, 1847. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC2-2980 (color film copy slide)