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The History of Asian Pacific Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Taliah Wilkerson
  • 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month--a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much like African American History, Women's History, and other commemorations, APA Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill established in 1977.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both bills were passed and on Oct. 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration, according to the Asian Pacific Heritage Web site.

In May 1990, the holiday was further expanded when President George H. Bush designated May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated with community festivals, military organizations, educational activities for students, civic organizations, and government-sponsored activities. Military organizations, in part, work to preserve the freedoms and liberties of our great nation and other nations. Those organizations are comprised of diverse members from all walks of life and Asian Pacific Americans are an important part of their overall success.

This year the theme is "Diverse Leadership for a Diverse Workforce." You are invited and encouraged to help celebrate an important part of our national history, heritage and diverse culture during the month of May.