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Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa Perry
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month, and an opportunity to celebrate the heritage of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

The 2016 theme is “Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies.”

Asian American Pacific Islanders are recognized for their many contributions to American culture; however, they faced a struggle with Congress memorializing the month of May. In 1977, Representative Frank J. Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye proposed a Joint Resolutions proclaiming annually a week during the first ten days in May as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage week.”

These initial resolutions did not pass. Representative Horton then proposed the joint resolution authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim the seven day period beginning May 4, 1979, House Joint Resolution 1007.

This resolution was passed and signed by President Jimmy Carter on Oct. 5, 1978, becoming Public Law 95-419. Over the next decade, U.S Presidents and Congress continued to amend the resolutions which lead to passing of Public Law 102-450, designating the entire month of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Designating May as Asian American Pacific Islander month provided a platform for Asian Americans to highlight accomplishments and contributions to the U.S.

Throughout the years, Asian American Pacific Islanders influence grew, to include the Philippines becoming independent in 1946 and Hawaii becoming the 50th U.S. State in 1959.

Notable icons are praised for their success like Maya Ying Lin, a Chinese American architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial; Greg Louganis, a Samoan American Olympic diving champion and the first person to win back-to-back double gold medals; Ellison S. Onizuka a Japanese American astronaut and the first Asian Pacific American in space; and Patsy Takemoto Mink, a Native Hawaiian U.S. Representative and first elected to Congress in 1964.

Let there be no doubt of the continued success and many accomplishments of all Asian Americans throughout the country. While Asian American Pacific Islander is observed and celebrated throughout the month of May, the true celebration begins with you.

Take the time learn more about the experiences and broaden your awareness of this special observance.

Walk Together: If you are a patron of an Asian owned business, do not just eat the cuisine, talk to the owner. Learn more about their stories, how they went about establishing their businesses, the obstacles they have faced or even local issues. Take the time and to learn what path they walked in.

Embrace Differences: Attend an Asian American Pacific Islander church, even if it is not your own religion. Please feel free to contact the Cannon Chapel for an array of services in the local community.

Build Legacies: Self reflect; pick up a book by an Asian Pacific author and read how the author writes though their perspective; spread the word that May recognizes and celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander month. Build and raise awareness to all the diversity around the country and remember to appreciate and celebrate the culture of Asian Americans.

For more information about Asian American Pacific Islander month, please contact the Equal Opportunity office at 575-784-6364.