NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
DLA Distribution’s Multicultural Committee celebrated the culture, traditions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with a program held on Wednesday, May 30. This year’s theme is “Unite our vision by working together.”
DLA Distribution commanding general Army Brig. Gen. John S. Laskodi welcomed everyone in attendance and gave a brief synopsis on the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month before introducing the keynote speaker, Wade Y. Ishimoto, a distinguished fellow with the Joint Special Operations University.
Ishimoto, a retired Army Special Forces officer who served multiple tours in Vietnam, was a charter member of Delta Force and served as its intelligence officer. Additionally, he retired from federal service as the special assistant to the deputy undersecretary of the Navy in 2012.
Ishimoto explained that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a small percentage of the population here in the United States, but they are the largest percentage in the world, with the largest concentration being in China and India.
“As the greatest nation in the world, we need to preserve our cultural heritage,” Ishimoto explained.
Following his presentation, Ishimoto led the distribution headquarters staff in a rendition of “God Bless America.”
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month takes place in May. It celebrates the culture, traditions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
In June 1977, the United States House of Representatives proclaimed the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later. President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978.
In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month. May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month two years later. On May 1, 2009 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.