By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tamara Marshall
ASG-QA, Equal Opportunity adviser

DOHA, Qatar - The month of May recognizes Asian-American and Pacific Islanders. The theme for this year is, "Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion."

President Obama said in this year's presidential proclamation, "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad achievements embody the American experience. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have started businesses, including some of our nation's most successful and dynamic enterprises. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander men and women are leaders in every aspect of American life - in government and industry, science and medicine, the arts and our Armed Forces, education and sports."

In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history, including the arrival in the U.S. of the first Japanese immigrants and the contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad. On May 7, 1990, however, President George H.W. Bush issued a proclamation designating May 1990 as the first Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, changing the observance from a week to a month.

The "Asian/Pacific American" designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic or language groups, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. There are now more Asian and Pacific Islander groups than in the past, with 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Islander subgroups representing a vast array of languages and cultures.

According to the 2011 Census, the estimated number of U.S. residents who were Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races, was 18.2 million. According to the 2011 Census, the estimated number of U.S. residents who said they were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races, was 1.4 million. Ultimately, we are a nation of diverse cultures and ethnic groups striving to embrace the values of each other while including all races and cultures under a set of standards and belief of inclusion and understanding.

Page last updated Mon May 6th, 2013 at 00:00