May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S. This month is for celebrating the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and how they have shaped and contributed to the U.S. Throughout the country, the community holds events and activities to bring awareness and commemorate the importance of AAPIHM.  The theme for this observance changes each year, so the theme for 2018 is: Unite Our Vision by Working Together.

The term Asian-American-Pacific Islander covers all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.  Melanesia includes New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. Micronesia comprises Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia, and Polynesia encompasses New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island.

AAPIHM came to be in June 1977 when Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution in order to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. In the next month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate, and both were passed.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution to make it an annual celebration, and 12 years later President George H.W. Bush signed an extension to make it a month-long celebration.

In 1992, May was officially signed into law as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to memorialize May 7, 1843 as the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S., and May 10, 1869 as the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which involved Chinese immigrants as the majority to have laid the tracks of the railroad.

A program recognizing Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month will be held on Westover ARB on Sunday, May 6, at 11:30 a.m. in the Civilian Personnel Classroom, Wing Building #1850.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Annette Peartree-Mandley at 413 557-7139 or email:


Editor's note: this article was submitted by Dr. Annette Peartree-Mandley, Westover Special Emphasis Program Manager