By the President of the United States of America
This month we honor the heritage and history of Asian and Pacific Americans and the contributions they have made to our country: to its economic development, its cultural wealth, its scientific and medical achievements, its institutes of education, and its government. As we celebrate the diversity of our people and their heritage, we remember that we are one Nation, united in a common quest for freedom and dignity.
Traders from the Asia-Pacific region reached North America as early as the 16th century, but the first significant wave of immigration began during the late 1800s. From China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and the Indian subcontinent they came and found work in America: as miners, railroad workers, farmers, and merchants. These settlers and their children preserved the rich legacy of their homelands while also learning the history of our Nation and embracing the traditions that define it.
While they found many opportunities in America, immigrants from the Asia-Pacific region also were victims of discrimination. Some were denied the right to buy land or become naturalized citizens solely because of their ethnic origin. Such prejudice often led to segregated community structures. Once thought of as ghettos, these neighborhoods are now vibrant cultural assets and magnets for tourism and trade in the cities of which they are a part.
America has made great progress in advancing civil rights since the days when Asian workers were exploited and labored under crushing hardship. A second significant wave of immigration brought doctors, nurses, engineers, musicians, scientists, and other professionals. Now-familiar names like Yo Yo Ma, Midori, Seiji Ozawa, Amy Tan, Michael Chang, and Kristi Yamaguchi today symbolize the rich heritage that Asian and Pacific Americans have added to our culture.
Today Asian and Pacific Americans represent a large portion of our population. The region from which they migrated is now one of the world's most dynamic areas of economic growth. America's trade with Asian and Pacific countries totals more than $300 billion, a greater amount than any other region in the world. The United States maintains alliances with countries from the Pacific such as Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. We will continue to promote economic cooperation and the expansion of free markets there. The security of our allies and the advancement of human rights in Asia and the Pacific benefit both our country and the countries of that region.
America is an ongoing experiment, an unfinished work. It is important that we continually strive to fulfill the ideals that attracted the Asian/Pacific peoples and other immigrants to our shores. The next century will present many challenges, but the ethnic diversity that binds us as a Nation will provide us with the energy and hope we need to build a more peaceful and more prosperous world. To honor the achievements of Asian/Pacific Americans and to recognize their contributions to our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 102-450, has designated the month of May of each year as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month."
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of May 1993 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this occasion with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also call upon all Americans to rededicate themselves to the principles of inclusion, mutual respect, and social justice.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON