Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance is May 31

Jennifer 8. Lee

By Directorate of Personnel Management, Headquarters Department of the Army

May is when the contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are formally recognized for their efforts to expand the resources and vitality of the United States.

The Department of Defense has led the way in that recognition.

Fort Meade will host an Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month observance celebration on May 31 at 11:30 a.m. at Club Meade.

The U.S. Army Field Band is the hosting unit for the program, which will feature keynote speaker author Jennifer 8. Lee.

This year’s theme is “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.”

The Army joins the nation in honoring Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent for their military and civilian service within the department. These individuals have proudly served in America’s Army from the Civil War to current operations all around the world.

The “Asian-American and Pacific Islander” designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic or language groups including native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

There are now more recognized Asian and Pacific Islander groups than in the past, with 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Islander subgroups representing a vast array of languages and cultures.

The observance began when Congress passed a joint congressional resolution in 1978 to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Week during the first week of May. This date was chosen because two important anniversaries occurred during this time:

– The arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America in 1843
– The completion of the transcontinental railroad

Army leaders sustain force capability by properly seeking out, accessing, developing and fully utilizing the individual talents and backgrounds of Soldiers.

Army leadership at installations and National Guard/Army Reserve locations focus on recognizing Soldiers and civilians of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and their past exploits to present-day mission support. The goal is to raise awareness and understanding of their service and sacrifice made throughout history.

The Army will continue to leverage the strengths of a diverse, all-volunteer force to remain highly capable and mission ready. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are one of these groups.

The Army is committed to ensuring everyone who is able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so and is treated with dignity and respect.

The U.S. Army strongly embraces diversity and seeks to maximize individual talents, increase morale and greatly enhance military effectiveness.

Past and present Asian-American and Pacific Islander Soldiers and civilians have built a legacy of professionalism, selfless service, dignity and respect and continue this legacy today while inspiring future generations.

For more historical information, visit the Center for Military History: Asian/Pacific-Americans in the U.S. Army at

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