May celebrated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Guests attend an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration last May 8, 2019, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The celebration included a class on lumpia making, a cultural talk and a heritage exhibit that went into detail about the customs and courtesies of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures.
(U.S. AIR FORCE/CHIYANNA L. MAXWELL)

In a celebration of long-honored traditions and culture, May was designated Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

“This month, and every month, we honor the more than 20 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who call America home, including those living in Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, and we salute those who have served and are currently serving our nation in the Armed Forces,” said President Donald J. Trump.

After a congressional bill passed in 1978, President Jimmy Carter finalized legislation in a joint resolution to recognize the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush extended the celebration to cover the entire month.

May’s significance is evident in the U.S.’s immigration history. The transcontinental railroad was completed May 10, 1869, primarily by Chinese immigrants, just two decades after the first Japanese immigrants arrived May 7, 1843.

“My family and I emigrated from the Philippines to Sacramento, California back in 2003,” said Staff Sgt. Jane Nucal, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron team chief for facility maintenance. “Just like any other family that moved to the U.S., my family was in search of a better life here as well. I have an uncle who retired from the Navy back in the 90’s. After him, I’m the only one so far who has joined the military.”

Members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander committee were eager to celebrate and share this heritage.

“It’s great to find an amazing group of people who I consider my military family and friends,” said Senior Airman Nicki Agunos, 341st Force Support Squadron Missile Alert Facility feeding operations accountant. “All the while making great memories, enjoying each other’s company and just having a fun time with one another. At the end of the day, this is what life is all about.”

CHIYANNA MAXWELL  Author

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