May 01, 2014


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement to mark the first day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is an opportunity to recognize the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

“Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the country and throughout our history. The broader AAPI community has been an integral part of Hawaii and our country’s rich cultural fabric, rooted in history from Native Hawaiians to the Asian immigrant workers who connected the West by rail and built Hawaii’s sugar plantations and agricultural industry. The state of Hawaii was also home to many trailblazers in the AAPI community. Senators Inouye and Akaka and Congresswoman Mink were leaders who helped build a stronger, better country. Today, the product of this vibrant history can be seen clearly in the melting pot that is Hawaii’s rich island culture.

“AAPI families not only contribute economically and culturally, but also help connect our nation to the broader international community. After Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines last November, the AAPI community was one of the first to spring into action to help the Philippines recover. Months later as donations tapered off, President Obama signed my Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act into law and Filipino American community groups and families in Hawaii again stepped up to support ongoing relief efforts. This month, let us also recognize and celebrate these personal ties that bind the United States to allies around the world as a truly global nation.”

May is officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by section 102 of title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint Congressional resolution in 1978. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.