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Taking a look at the history of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Team Dover and military installations around the world are celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month during the month of May.

During Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Airmen are encouraged to take time to recognize and celebrate the dedicated service and contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans, both past and present, to the country and the Air Force.

Many may not know that this is also Taiwanese American Heritage Week. It is a nationwide celebration to honor the cultures, traditions and achievements of Asian Pacific Islanders in the U.S. during this month.

The birth of celebrating the culture and achievements of Asian-Pacific Americans began June 1977, when New York Congressmen Frank Horton and California Congressmen Norman Mineta introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate July of 1977. Both bills were passed, and President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual week of celebration in Oct. 5, 1978.

May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese citizens to the U.S. May 7, 1843. It is also to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869, which were built with Chinese labor.

In May of 1990, President George H.W. Bush designated the entire month as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and since 1999, Oregon Congressman David Wu and the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus have supported the celebration of Taiwanese American Heritage Week starting each Mother's Day weekend during the month of May.

"As the only Member of Congress born in Taiwan, I join the Taiwanese American community in celebrating the heritage week," said Congressman Wu. "At this time, it is important to recognize the community's successes, but also work to promote mutual values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law."