FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated in May to commemorate the contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution in 1978 to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May.

This date was chosen because two important anniversaries occurred during this time: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (by many Chinese laborers) May 10, 1869. Congress voted to expand it from a week-long to a month-long celebration in May 1990.

As part of the annual tradition Fort Sam Houston publicly observed the achievements of Asian/Pacific Americans in a ceremony held May 6 at Army Community Service, with performances, a fashion show and food samplings. The theme for this year's celebration is "leadership, diversity, harmony, gateway to success."

Command Sgt. Maj. George Range III, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, introducing the guest speaker, said "This is the high point of my career in introducing this man. He is a hero in every sense of the word. Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa, which means June 2, the day he was born."

Keynote speaker for the ceremony, Savusa, from U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, said, "I am a native of American Samoa and I am a Soldier." Savusa began his military career more than 30 years ago on June 17, 1975. An infantryman, he spent the majority of his career in infantry, ranger, air assault and airborne assignments prior to assuming duties as the USAREUR command sergeant major.

Following a brief history of the Asian/Pacific people and their immigration into our country, land of America dreams, Savusa said, "Life at times for these people was a nightmare rather than the American dream, but due to persistence and diligence they built the railroad, built businesses and grew to be major sectors of our society."

Page last updated Thu May 8th, 2008 at 16:29