COMMUNITY CORNER - Month of May honors Asian-Pacific Islanders’ contributions to society

By Col. Andrew Cole | GARRISON COMMANDER | May 22, 2014

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, a month dedicated to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

It was chosen as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 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 by a majority of Chinese immigrants on May 10, 1869 – 145 years ago.

The Asian-Pacific American designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic or language groups, who have made numerous and diverse contributions to our Army and our nation.

President Barack Obama in a proclamation stated: “During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and we reflect on the many ways they have enriched our nation.

“Like America itself, the AAPI community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures – each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend and strengthen our nation – as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists and leaders of government. They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit.”

This year’s theme, “Diversity Leadership = Expanding Opportunity: An Imperative for America,” reiterates the Army’s long tradition in understanding the power and potential created by embracing diversity among the ranks.

During May, installations will have celebrations and events, and highlight and share these stories with the Army.

Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division Equal Opportunity Office celebrated with an observance luncheon May 21 at Riley’s Conference Center.

Guest speaker was Maria Flordeliza R. Russell, a science teacher at Junction City Middle School, who is originally from Tacloban City, Philippines. Russell talked about how she was given opportunities and freedoms in America she might not have had in the Philippines.

I encourage you to continue to honor the contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans throughout the month and embrace diversity year-round.

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