PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Each year, celebrated in May, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the challenges faced by Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians and their vital contributions to the American story.
The observance was established by Title 36, U.S. Code, Section 102, and celebrates the service and sacrifices of Asian/Pacific Islanders throughout the United States. The theme for the observance changes each year; this year’s theme is “Unite Our Mission by Engaging Each Other.”
The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) recently unveiled this year’s official artwork, commemorating the celebration. The piece was inspired by traditional puzzle designs of Asian and Pacific Island cultures, such as the Edakoodam, Tangram, and Lu Ban Lock.
The vibrant colors in the design embody the diversity of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, which represents nearly 50 countries and ethnic groups, each with distinct cultures, traditions, and histories. The words surrounding the puzzle emphasize the skills and characteristics necessary to “Unite Our Mission by Engaging Each Other.”
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month honors Americans with a proud heritage that encompasses all of the Asian continent and Pacific islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month was introduced in the House of Representatives in June 1978. This joint resolution was passed by the House and Senate, and was later signed by the President on October 5, 1978. This law directed the President to declare a seven-day period, beginning May 4, 1979, as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’ It wasn’t until 1992 that Congress designated May as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.’
May was selected to commemorate the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 and immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. Chinese workers formed the majority of workers who laid the transcontinental railroad.