Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month Celebrated in May
President Obama recently issued the Proclamation recognizing May as Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month. In his formal comments, President Obama noted both the struggles and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
He stated "The vast diversity of languages, religions and cultural traditions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continues to strengthen the fabric of American society. From the arrival of the first Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants 150 years ago to those who arrive today, as well as those native to the Hawaiian Islands and to our Pacific Island territories, all possess the common purpose of fulfilling the American dream and leading a life bound by the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we remember the challenges and celebrate the achievements that define our history.
"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured and overcome hardship and heartache. In the earliest years, tens of thousands of Gold Rush pioneers, coal miners, transcontinental railroad builders, as well as farm and orchard laborers, were subject to unjust working conditions, prejudice and discrimination, yet they excelled. Even in the darkness of the Exclusion Act and Japanese internment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered, providing for their families and creating opportunities for their children. Amidst these struggles, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed in great and significant ways to all aspects of society.
"They have created works of literature and art, thrived as American athletes and prospered in the world of academia. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played a vital role in our Nation's economic and technological growth by establishing successful enterprises and pushing the limits of science. They are serving in positions of leadership within the government more now than ever before. And along with all of our great service men and women, they have defended the United States from threats at home and abroad, serving our Nation with valor."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month, also noted that, "Leadership in this country is also drawing from the AAPI community and gathering the best minds and forces to guide them. With President Obama's appointments to his Cabinet of Secretary Steven Chu to the Energy Department, Secretary Eric Shinseki to the Veterans Affairs Department and Secretary Gary Locke to the Commerce Department, we now have represented AAPIs as key decision-makers. Their heritage will add a key dimension in America's history of leaders and how they shaped this country."