Whether one identifies as Asian Pacific American, Asian American Pacific Islander, some subset of those categories or, like me, all of the above, May is a month where we celebrate the national contributions of a diverse group representing more than 50 ethnic minority peoples and the fastest-growing minority demographic in America.
As with other parts of my ancestry, I’m very proud of my Asian and Pacific Island roots and how much they have contributed to my American heritage. All the wisdom, truth and beauty of Japan, Hawaii, the Philippines and China have combined to enrich my identity as a proud, flag-waving, red-blooded American.
In many ways, I feel I have the best of all worlds. I’m the son of many noble and ancient cultures and people. I’ve inherited the honor, courage and strength of Asia and the South Pacific, blended with the drive, ingenuity and pluck of the greatest nation on earth. All the history and inspiration of the American experience that my ancestors adopted when they came to this country — combined with the opportunities of the American dream they came for, fought for and then realized over generations — is mine.
What a birthright! While my predecessors did not come across on the Mayflower or settle the colonies, they made up for lost time by embracing America as their beloved home. And they are joined by countless other APAs who have overachieved across so many industries and disciplines to build and fortify America often in the face of discrimination, prejudice and many stereotypes.
The spirit and hard work of Asian and Pacific Americans throughout the nation, past and present, immigrant or native-born, have accomplished so much and forged such success in American business, medicine, law, education, engineering, art, public and military service. We have contributed as first responders, in the skilled and food industries, small shops, startups and boardrooms, nonprofits, sports and entertainment and in so many other professional endeavors.
APA sacrifices are part of our shared history and present-day experience. Just a few examples are Chinese railroad workers in the 1800s connecting the vast expanses of our country, heroic Japanese 442nd combat veterans in WWII, and Filipino nurses on the front lines of today’s COVID-19 crisis.
Equally important are the successes in the home with dedicated parents and grandparents raising families and educating kids with the values and principles that make America great. Their contributions are an integral part of the fabric of our proud republic!
As we celebrate Asian Pacific Americans in the month of May, let’s not forget that every month of the year, we are beneficiaries of their patriotic contributions to America.
Sean Reyes is attorney general for Utah.