Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Monday May 9, 2011

What is it?

The month of May is Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month - a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The "Asian Pacific Islander" designation encompasses over 50 ethnic or language groups.

The observance originated in a congressional bill in 1977 by Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta. They introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, Senators Daniel Inouya and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed in 1978.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush designated May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad - of which the majority of workers were Chinese immigrants - on May 10, 1869.

What is the Army doing?

Today, Asian Pacific Islanders make up 4 percent of the active and reserve force of the Army and 2 percent of the National Guard. Although small in numbers, their contributions to America's wars has been tremendous. Thousands of Asian Americans have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Of note is the 100th Infantry Battalion, United States Army Reserve, which was activated for their first deployment in 2004 to serve in Iraq, their first activation since the Vietnam conflict. The 100th Infantry Battalion is an all-Japanese battalion that consisted of former members of the Hawaii National Guard. They were activated and deployed again from 2008 to 2009; their tour of service was exceptional.

How important is this to the Army?

Gen. Eric K. Shinseki (Retired) is one of the noteworthy Asian Pacific Islanders to reach general officer rank. He achieved the highest position in the Army as the 34th Chief of Staff, on June 22, 1999. He is currently the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Another is Lt. Gen.Thomas P. Bostick, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, who is nominated for reappointment as the Chief of Engineers/Commanding General, United States Army Corps of Engineers. Asian Pacific Islanders continue to make professional strides throughout the Army.

We not only celebrate the proud heritage and service of Asian Pacific Islanders in the month of May, but we celebrate their legacy, sacrifice and achievements every day.

Equal Opportunity Branch (EO)
Asian Pacific Americans on
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