Beale hosts Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Luncheon

Members of Tiare Polynesian dance group perform during the Asian American Pacific Islander luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. All of the dancers in the group are members of Team Beale. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

Members of Tiare Polynesian dance group perform during the Asian American Pacific Islander Luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. All of the dancers in the group are members of Team Beale. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

Members of Team Beale proceed through a buffet-style lunch during the Asian American Pacific Islander luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. More than 200 Airmen attended the “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion” themed event. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

Members of Team Beale proceed through a buffet-style lunch during the Asian American Pacific Islander Luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. More than 200 Airmen attended the “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion” themed event. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

Iwalani White, wife of 9th Reconnaissance Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Robert White speaks during the Asian American Pacific Islander luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. White was the guest speaker at the “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion” themed event. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

Iwalani White, wife of 9th Reconnaissance Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Robert White speaks during the Asian American Pacific Islander Luncheon at the Community Activity Center at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2012. White was the guest speaker at the “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion” themed event. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Schwab/Released)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., -- Team Beale hosted a luncheon to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the Community Activity Center here May 23.

More than 200 members of Team Beale attended the "Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion" themed event with guest speaker Iwalani White, wife of 9th Reconnaissance Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Robert White.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill in 1977, when two U.S. Representatives introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration.

"This luncheon and cultural show is the columniation of Beale's month long celebration honoring Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month," said Grace Patterson, event director. "It's an event that we look forward to having every year."

The buffet-style luncheon featured food from around the Orient and Pacific islands. There was also a cultural display that showcased artifacts from Asian and Pacific countries.

After lunch guests were treated to a series of Polynesian dances by the dance group Tiare which is comprised of members of Team Beale.

"It's a celebration of culture and diversity," said John Cruz, 9th Logistical Readiness Squadron flight chief. "...And what better way to celebrate than with food and dance."

At the conclusion of the luncheon White shared personal stories of her Hawaiian heritage and keeping a diverse culture within the Air Force.

"Airmen should be proud of their heritage and culture" said White. "One of things that makes the Air Force great is our diversity."