The first of May marks the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the cultures of the Asian continent and the Pacific island groups of Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.
Originally decreed by a congressional bill in 1977, it became a Heritage Month by law in 1992 when it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
Historically, May was the month in which the first Japanese immigrants came to the United States in 1843 and the transcontinental railroad (completed mostly by Chinese immigrants) was finished in May of 1869.
Many examples of Asian Pacific American trailblazers from the 20th Century show how early and diverse an impact they have had. In 1932, the first licensed Chinese-American female aviator was Katherine Sui Fun Cheung, and the first Asian-American U.S. Congressional Representative was Indian-American Dalip Singh from California in 1956.
More recently, May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to the family of Hawaiian-born Private First Class Anthony Kaho’ohanohano for his extraordinary heroism in Korea in 1951.
This year’s theme is “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion.”
Co-chairs from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, 2nd Lt. Peter Lee and Master Sgt. John McGee, are aiming to put together an event that shows how accessible and integrated Asian Pacific culture is in America today.
A great example are foods such as kalua pork, sweet and sour ribs and teriyaki beef that have become staples here as in their homelands in Hawaii and Japan.
“Organizing the APA event is easily the most fulfilling opportunity I have been afforded during my two years here at Edwards AFB,” said Lee. “I joined the Air Force for three reasons: to help serve the community and nation, to lead people and to be part of a team. I feel that the Asian Pacific American event has given me the opportunity to do all these things.”
The 5th Annual Asian Pacific American Cultural Day will be held 11 a.m.-2 p.m., May 17 at the Center of Excellence.
This year’s festivities include:
- Culinary samples from Cambodia, China, Guam, Hawaii, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand and Vietnam
- Cultural dances, instrumental performances, and songs from Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Tahiti, New Zealand, Samoa and Hawaii
- Martial Arts demonstrations
- The Edwards Chiefs squaring off in a coconut grating competition
- A Car show being judged by the Airman Leadership Council
- New this year is Kid’s Corner, featuring a bouncy castle, face painting, origami, crafts and movies.
Tickets are $5. Children 10 and under free. The tickets are available for presale or at the door.
For more information, call (661) 275-6696 or e-mail Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org.