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Buckley to host Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Why should the month of May be held in high regard? Could it be the warm weather and cool nights? Is it because students all over are staring at the months to follow like a two-year-old at the edge of a pool on a hot summer's day? Could it be because May is named after Maia, the goddess of bounty and the mother of Mercury, and a time for farmers to anxiously await their harvest?

It is all those reasons and more. For a small, but significant portion of our Air Force family, May declares the beginning of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a celebration of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

APIHM began as congressional bill introduced to the House of Representatives by Frank Horton and Norman Mineta in June 1977. Their bill called for the first ten days of May be declared Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Later that year, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate. On Oct. 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1987, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 as the majority of the workers were Chinese immigrants. Now, 15.5 million people in the U.S. are of Asian heritage, about 5 percent of the total population. California has the largest number of this group, at just over five million. Hawaii is the state where Asians make up the highest proportion of the total population, at 54 percent.

This year, Buckley will host its annual Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration May 26, 11:30 a.m. at the Leadership Development Center. The guest speaker is Dennis Kaw, a former Air Force Judge Advocate who now serves the Denver community as a trial attorney and a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

The theme of this year's celebration is "Diverse Leadership for a Diverse Workforce."

Throughout this month, we hope you can get out and learn more about the Asian heritage and also pledge to educate others. Come out and enjoy what is sure to be the best APIHM ever and remember this is the year of the Air Force family.
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