Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Official Congressional Ceremony to recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Below are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“It is an honor to join you to mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with distinguished Members of Congress from America’s diverse Asian and Pacific Islander communities who are working hard and making a real difference here in Washington.
“I want to take a moment to pause and remember one of the great leaders from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus who is no longer with us. Senator Daniel Inouye was an American hero. From his heroic service in World War II to his perseverance after losing an arm in battle, from his extraordinary work for over half a century in the house and senate to his unfailing dedication to equal rights and equal opportunity, Senator Inouye will never be forgotten in this capitol and throughout our country.
“For the past 250 years, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have contributed to building America. From the Filipino seafarers of Saint Malo, Louisiana in 1763, to the many who arrive on our shores seeking a better life in 2013, these individuals and families continue to enrich our country and play an important role in shaping the American story. Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have contributed so much across many fields, not limited to military service, government, business, innovation, education, and the arts.
“We celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May because of two historic events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was constructed in large part by immigrants from China. Both anniversaries highlight the central role immigrants have played in our history.
“As Congress moves forward on comprehensive immigration reform in the coming weeks, let us be inspired in our work by the millions who, over the course of the last two and a half centuries, arrived on our shores from Asia and the Pacific, worked hard, sent their kids to school, gave back to their communities, and contributed to strengthening our country. They have already shown us the value immigrants bring to our economy and society, and we owe it to the next wave of first-generation Americans to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that recognizes how much we stand to gain as a nation comprehensive reform.
“As we reflect on the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, let us look forward with hope and enthusiasm for the great achievements that will surely come about during the next 250 years.
“And let me make special note of the strong and enduring ties between the United States and the Republic of Korea, whose new president, Park Geun-hye, will be addressing a joint session of Congress later this morning. I know we’re all looking forward to hearing her speak about our common commitment to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”