May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Committee
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a celebration of those people and their culture. The theme for this year’s observance is “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.”

The month of May commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. It also marks 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.

The observance originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. 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 of the same year, Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both passed. On Oct. 5, 1978, then-President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating the annual celebration.

Twelve years later, then-President George H.W. Bush signed an extension, making the weeklong celebration a monthlong celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

Asians and Pacific Islanders have contributed to U.S. military operations in the Pacific Theater, and around the globe, throughout the past 100 years. Due to the vastness of the Pacific Theater, the success of the military in places like the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Vietnam would not have been possible without the support of the people in that part of the world. Exposure to U.S. forces also opened doors to economic relations and the exchange of ideas.

In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, local organizers will hold an Asian food-tasting event at the base chapel May 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All members of the base community are welcome to attend.