Each year, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the hardships faced by Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians and their vital contributions to the American story.
Designating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month was introduced in the House of Representatives in June 1978. This joint resolution was passed by the House and Senate, and was later signed by the President on October 5, 1978. This law directed the President to declare a seven-day period, beginning May 4, 1979, as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’ But it wasn’t until 1992 that Congress designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
May was selected to commemorate the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, May 10, 1869, which was laid by a majority of Chinese workers, and the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States, May 7, 1843.
Immigrants from Asia and native people of the Pacific Islands helped to shape the history of the United States and its security and prosperity today. This celebration honors Americans with a proud heritage that encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island), Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), and Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia).
We celebrate the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages, and unique experiences represented among more than 56 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages from Asia and the Pacific Islands who live in the United States.
Americans of Asia Pacific have excelled throughout America’s history in a variety of fields, including the arts, trades, manufacturing, education, government, sciences, medicine, sports, business and military service.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders of various nationalities and ancestry — Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Asian Indian, and Polynesian — have a rich legacy of service and sacrifice in the United States Navy dating back to the 19th century,” as described by Ph.D. Regina T. Akers, an historian with Naval History and Heritage Command in an essay, “https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/asian-americans-pacific-islanders-in-the-navy/asian-americans-us-military.html Asian Americans in the U.S. Military with an emphasis on the U.S. Navy.”
In the words of U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., “America’s greatest asset is not our assembly lines or weapons systems, or even our great ships, submarines, and airplanes … it’s our people.”
The theme for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month changes each year. The theme for this year is: Unite Our Vision by Working Together. For more information about AAPI Heritage Month, and to learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islanders' legacy of service in the Navy, visit Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Navy on the Naval History and Heritage Command website: www.history.navy.mil/.