Congressman Faleomavaega, along with fellow members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and House Democratic Leadership, celebrated Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month and offered remarks to an audience of over 500 APA community leaders during a CAPAC ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
The ceremony featured remarks by over a dozen CAPAC members including Chairwoman Judy Chu (CA), as well as House Democratic Leadership including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (CT).
Chairwoman Chu began the morning with a call to action for the AAPI community, followed by a keynote speech offered by Senator Daniel K. Akaka (HI), who has served in Congress since 1977 and will retire later this year. Senator Akaka was also Secretary of the Executive Board when CAPAC was founded in 1994.
Following remarks by Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, Congressman Faleomavaega, who is a member of the CAPAC Executive Board and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, drew attention to the contributions of the APA community, especially Pacific Islanders. He also highlighted the increasing significance of the Asia-Pacific region in U.S. Foreign Policy and called on leaders to continue to advocate for fair treatment and opportunities for Asian-Pacific Islanders in our nation.
“I am honored to be able to represent American Samoa and especially our Pacific Islander community in the States as well as the U.S. Territories when it comes to these historic discussions regarding the Asia- Pacific American community, including the progress we have made as well as the issues we must still address,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
Among other attendees and speakers at the Ceremony were CAPAC Vice Chair Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Chair Emeritus Mike Honda (CA), CAPAC Education Taskforce Chair Mazie Hirono (HI), CAPAC Civil Rights Taskforce Chair Bobby Scott (VA), CAPAC Health Taskforce Chair Barbara Lee (CA), CAPAC Housing Taskforce Chair Al Green (TX), Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA), Congressman Joe Crowley (NY), Congresswoman Laura Richardson (CA), Congressman Brad Sherman (CA), and CAPAC founding members former Congressman and Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and former Congressman Robert Underwood of Guam.
Following the CAPAC ceremony, Congressman Faleomavaega hosted a group of 25 Pacific Islander leaders who were visiting Washington to address Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander issues at various meetings with federal government leaders. The Coalition members, who came from California, Michigan, and Washington State, joined Congressman Faleomavaega in his Washington office to discuss some of the prevalent issues affecting the Pacific Islander community.
Later that evening Faleomavaega, along with other CAPAC Members, elected officials and APA community leaders, continued the APA Heritage Month celebration during the 18th Annual Gala Awards Dinner presented by the Asia-Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS). The keynote speech was offered by President Barack Obama, the first U.S. President with Pacific ties.
Founded in 1994, CAPAC is comprised of Members of Congress who have Asian or Pacific Islander roots or have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Originally founded alongside CAPAC in 1994 as the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Institute, APAICS continues to support CAPAC by serving as a resource to Congress and promoting a politically active and civically engaged Asia- Pacific American community.
“I thank President Barack Obama, my CAPAC colleagues, and the House Democratic leadership in Congress for their efforts on behalf of Asian-Pacific Americans across the United States, and I also thank our Pacific Islander leaders who took part in the APA Heritage Month events in our nation’s Capital and who took the time to express the needs of our community in our meeting together.”
“No other community in the U.S. represents the diversity of our great nation more than the 18.5 million Americans who make up the Asian-Pacific American community. An inherently diverse population, Asian-Pacific Americans comprise over 45 distinct ethnicities and over 100 languages and dialects,” Congressman Faleomavaega added.
“Emerging from a history of severe discrimination, Asian-Pacific Americans have become increasingly represented in the arenas of civic engagement, business, media, arts, and academia, to name a few. As we pay tribute this May to the contributions of generations past and reflect on how far we have come, we must also raise awareness of our ongoing challenges and work towards keeping Asian-Pacific Americans at the table when it comes to major policy decisions that shape the course of our Nation.”
“Last but not least, I honor our Asian-Pacific Americans who have dedicated their lives to serving our nation in the U.S. Armed Forces, including those from my district of American Samoa. Let us also pay tribute to their sacrifices as we celebrate our heritage and freedoms,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.