May celebrates Asian Pacific Islander heritage

(Courtesy of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute)

(Courtesy of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Martial arts, sushi rolls, hula dancers and kimchee may be the first things that come to mind when some hear the term Asian or Pacific Islander.

While the above is true, Asians and Pacific Islanders have contributed more to our culture and military than listed. In fact they continue to make so many contributions that every May is designated as a month to honor and commemorate their heritage.

The month was chosen to coincide with the first Asian group, the Japanese, to enter 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.

Many Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander decent have served and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and current operations down range.

"Diversity, Leadership, Empowerment and Beyond" is this year's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month theme. The heritage month originated in a congressional bill that dates back to 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 10 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 were passed.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension of the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

The Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Committee here will hold a luncheon at the Event Center May 26 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. From Korea to China, Hawaii to Thailand, many different Asian cultures will be represented through song, dance and food. Dishes include sweet and sour chicken, beef bulgogi, lumpia, sushi and port stir fry. Entertainment includes a Chinese Ribbon Dance, Korean Dance Drum and Japanese Ti-Chi. Tickets will go on sale soon.

For more information or to volunteer, email Staff Sgt. Chad Manson at chad.manson@goodfellow.af.mil.

Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia: New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands;
Micronesia: Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia; and Polynesia: New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island.