Month celebrates contributions of Asian, Pacific Americans

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May 26 luau to cap base observance events

Celebrated every May, AAPI Heritage Month recognizes selfless service and sacrifices made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. AAPI encompasses all of the Asian continent and Pacific islands of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

To kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, signed a proclamation earlier this month, recognizing their history of achievements and contributions to the American story.

This year’s theme, “Advancing leaders through collaboration,” focuses on diversity, inclusion and leadership.

The observance originated in 1978, when a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the U.S. arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and Chinese worker contributions to the building of the transcontinental railroad completed May 10, 1869.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush designated May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“The history of Asian and Pacific Americans in the United States is a long and honorable one. Determined to uphold America’s promise of freedom and opportunity for all, generations of Asian and Pacific men and women have helped this Nation to grow and prosper,” Bush said in his proclamation.

Some notable Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made a difference in history include:

· Ellison Onizuka was an American astronaut, engineer, and Air Force test pilot who successfully flew with Space Shuttle Discovery on a mission in 1985. Hailing from Kealakekua, Hawaii, he was the first Asian American and person of Japanese origin to reach space. On Jan. 28, 1986, Onizuka lost his life when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch.

· In 2020, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass became the first woman and Asian American to serve as the branch’s highest enlisted member.

At Wright-Patt, the AAPI Heritage Month Observance Committee has organized a series of events to commemorate the month. On May 26 from noon to 2 p.m., 88 ABW will host a luau to culminate AAPI Heritage Month and all its activities.

“The first step to sharing one’s culture starts with food. It’s what brings us all together,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Ordiales, NCO in charge of the wing’s Commander’s Action Group and the observance committee’s lead event planner. “This event will feature performances and/or food samples from countries such as the Philippines, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea.”

As an Asian and Pacific Islander tradition that has been shared for a millennium, a whole roasted pig will be featured at the event for guests to sample.

“This event is free of charge to all Wright-Patterson AFB personnel and their families, thanks to the efforts of our kind vendors, the USO, volunteers and the planning committee,” he said.

The luau will take place at the USO, 2221 Birch St., Bldg. 1222, Area A, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433.

Other events include professional development and mentoring events May 18-19 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the USO auditorium; cooking demonstrations May 17 and 24; Airman video spotlights throughout the month; and a fitness event May 20.

Visit the 88th Air Base Wing’s Facebook page for recipe demonstrations and more information.

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