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Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Heather McNeil
  • 169th Force Support Squadron
Since the late 1970s, May has been recognized as Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. "Why May?" you may ask. May 10, 1869, marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was built by many Chinese and Japanese immigrant workers. These tireless workers endured brutal conditions to help expand the transportation and trade industry in America. About 130 years later, Calif. Congressman John T. Doolittle made a remark to the House of the Representatives, honoring these railroad builders.

"Without the efforts of the Chinese workers in the building of America's railroads, our development and progress as a nation would have been delayed by years. Their toil in severe weather, cruel working conditions and for meager wages cannot be underestimated. My sentiments and thanks go out to the entire Chinese-American community for its ancestors' contribution to the building of this great Nation," John T. Doolittle. Chinese-American Contribution to Transcontinental Railroad (Extensions of Remarks), Congressional Record, Vol. 145, Part 6, 106th Congress, 1st Session, April 29, 1999, p. 8003.

We are so used to having goods and services from around the world right at our fingertips. We don't often stop to think about what was sacrificed and endured to attain the luxuries we take for granted. This month, as you notice where your items were made, take a moment to pause and reflect on the more than 2,000 shallow graves along the Transcontinental Railroad in the name of economic expansion.