“I am beyond”

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Carlos A. Barter
  • 90th Missile Wing Equal Opportunity
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is over. This year's theme was "I Am Beyond." The phrase captures the aspirations of the American Spirit and how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges of limited equal opportunity in America.

Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution in 1978 establishing Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and the contributions of Chinese workers who helped build the Trans-continental Railroad, which was completed May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration.

History has demonstrated that the contributions from people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are countless. Contributions such as those from Maggie Gee have gone down in our history as selfless acts.

Maggie Gee was one of the first woman Chinese-American aviators who served in the World War II. She received her flight license and joined the Women Air Force Serving Pilots, accomplishing this feat during a time when women were not allowed to serve in combat. Gee trained numerous male pilots and also co-piloted military planes for simulated dogfights. In 2010, her and her fellow WASP pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal for their contributions to our nation.

As a military that's rich in diversity, the observance of American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is another opportunity to remember and appreciate the patriotism and selfless sacrifices American and Pacific Islanders have made not only to our military, but our country as well.

Let us not forget that although we all come from different walks of life, we all have something in common: to support and defend the principles and values for what our nation stands.