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May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- According to the United States Census Bureau in July 2004, there was an estimated 14 million U.S. residents who admitted to being of Asian descent, comprising five percent of the total population.

One word to describe Asian/Pacific Americans is diversity. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Thai, Hmong, Samoans and Asian Indians are just a few of the many distinct ethnic groups that fall into the category of Asian/Pacific American. May marks the celebration of Asian/ Pacific American Heritage Month and this year's theme is "Excellence through Leadership, Diversity and Unity."
With 1976 marking our country's bicentennial celebration, a young Chinese-American banker named Jeannie Jew initiated efforts to establish Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Inspired by her great-grandfather who worked on the American transcontinental railroad and died fighting anti-Asian violence during the 1890s, Jew began the crusade to reserve the month of May for celebrating Asian American contributions to U.S. history when she noticed the absence of recognition for Asian Americans during the bicentennial celebrations. 

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 were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

In October 1992, the holiday was expanded further when President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by Public Law 102-450. 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 for the railroad were Chinese immigrants.

The Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Committee will have their annual luncheon May 22 at the Events Center from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Prior to the luncheon, curry and rice bowls as well as marinated frozen chicken (ready to be cooked) will be sold for a fundraiser. Orders for the fundraiser will be accepted until May 11 and food will be available for pickup at the Chapel Fellowship Hall on May 15 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. For more information, call Capt. Ricardo Ochinang at 654-3050 or Tech. Sgt. Andrea Largent at 654-5318.