SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Thursday marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and several events held paid tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans whose work influenced the nation.

The “Cry of Independence” at the State Capitol attracted hundreds of people to commemorate 212 years of Mexican Independence, as well as celebrate the independence of several other Latin American countries that celebrate the anniversaries of their founding this week.

The events helped highlight their contributions.

“It has been really nice for the entire community to come out and celebrate ‘El Grito de Independencia,’” Carissa Gutierrez said.

The event attended by hundreds of people featured performances, food trucks and various cultural booths.

“Forty percent of California’s residents have Hispanic heritage, and a majority of them are Mexican. The contribution to the GDP and the growth of this economy is significant on behalf of this population,” Liliana Ferrer, consul general of Mexico in Sacramento, said.

Another reason the event is special is it has been three years since they last had this gathering at the State Capitol. On the Capitol’s balcony, officials reenacted the famous cry for independence, “El Grito de Dolores.”

Ferrer adds having this celebration this year is even more important after the sacrifices Hispanics have made during the pandemic.

“Essential workers in the Latino community, they were the most impacted because they were the ones that never stopped working,” Ferrer said.

Celebrating the countless contributions to the nation and state is why this day and month are vital.

“Most people celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and today is more important because it is independence from Spain. Five hundred years of Spanish rule, so it is more of an important day,” Rory Castillo said.

Thursday is just the start. More events are scheduled this month, such as Back to the Boulevard and a tribute performance for Graciela Brauer Ramírez, who was a poet, writer and professor.