Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month/Older Americans Month
Unleash the Power of Age is the theme for this year's Older Americans Month, previously known as “Senior Citizens Month” when established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. At that time, only 17 million Americans lived past the age of 65, and a third of those lived in poverty with few programs to help meet their needs. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, marking May as a time to celebrate those aged 65 and older through ceremonies, events, and public recognition. Since its inception, every president has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking the nation to pay tribute to older persons in their communities.
This celebration shines light on the essential role older adults play in sharing their experiences, understanding, and knowledge with younger generations in a variety of meaningful ways, including in the workplace. As the average lifespan increases, so does the amount of years the average person works. By the end of 2002, workers in the labor force aged 55 to 64 increased to 62.9 percent, the highest level of the postwar era. Many employers have recognized the benefits of hiring older workers, and are utilizing the skills that they bring to the table—experience, knowledge, work ethic, and commitment. As the state agency charged with enforcing Missouri’s anti-discrimination laws, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights actively investigates complaints of age discrimination (ages 40-69) in the workplace and conducts training and outreach efforts to educate Missouri employees and employers on their rights and responsibilities under the Missouri Human Rights Act.
This year’s festivities acknowledge the value older adults continue to bring to Missouri communities through their dedicated involvement in social and faith groups, and service organizations.
- OlderAmericansMonth.org details great ways to for older adults to “unleash the power of age,” including the use of social media and creative community events to promote the honoring of older Americans.
- Elections for Missouri's Silver-Haired Legislature take place in May across the state at local area agencies on aging nutrition or senior centers. The SHL is a formally-elected body of citizens aged 60 and older that promotes conscientious legislative advocacy for Missouri's older adults. All members are volunteers who serve without pay. To find out more, visit your local agency on aging.
Local agencies on aging in Missouri include the following:
- Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Atchison, Nodaway, Worth, Harrison, Putnam, Holt, Andrew, Gentry, Buchanan, DeKalb, Clinton, Davies, Caldwell, Grundy, Livingston, Sullivan, Linn, and Mercer counties
- Northeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, and Warren counties
- Mid-America Regional Council, serving Platte, Clay, Ray, Jackson, and Cass counties
- Care Connection, serving Carroll, Chariton, Lafayette, Saline, Johnson, Pettis, Bates, Henry, Vernon, St. Clair, Cedar, Benton, and Hickory counties
- Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Howard, Laclede, Maries, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski, and Washington counties
- Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, serving St. Charles, St. Louis County, Franklin, and Jefferson counties
- St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, serving the City of St. Louis
- Region X Area Agency on Aging, serving Barton, Jasper, Newton, and McDonald counties
- Southwest Office on Aging, serving Barry, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Douglas, Greene, Howell, Lawrence, Oregon, Ozark, Polk Shannon, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster, and Wright counties
- Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Perry, Iron, Reynolds, Madison, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Wayne, Carter, Ripley, Butler, Stoddard, Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Dunklin counties
Useful information for older Missourians and their families may be found by searching the following:
- The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services has information on Independent Living, Senior Employment, the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program, and much more.
- The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging provides older residents with details on a variety of subjects, including home-delivered meals, fall prevention and wellness programs, rent and utility assistance, and support groups, in its Search for Services section.
- To find help in your community, log on to Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging, connecting you to services for older adults and their families. You can search by location or by topic, including Alzheimer's Disease, Legal Assistance, and Volunteerism. You can also utilize this service by calling 1-800-677-1116.
- Read about Home & Community-Based Long Term Care, Elder Rights Protection, and many other topics of interest online at Department of Health & Human Services' Administration on Aging.
May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, first celebrated after Congress passed a law directing President Jimmy Carter to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979, as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1990, Congress requested President George H.W. Bush issue a proclamation which expanded the observance from one week to a full month. In 1991, a law passed recognizing the significance of May 7 and May 10 in the history of Asian and Pacific Americans. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, while on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed. Chinese immigrants laid most of the western tracks, suffering many tragedies along the way, as accidents, avalanches, and explosions left more than 1,200 Chinese workers dead by the time the last ten miles of track was laid in less than 12 hours on the final day of construction. In 1992, Congress permanently designated May of each year as “Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month.”Asian-Pacific is a rather inclusive term that encompasses the greater Asian continent along with the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. These three regions include well-known areas such as Fiji, New Guinea, Guam, New Zealand, Samoa, Easter Island, and the Hawaiian Islands.
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Missouri:
- Visit The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to view its renowned Chinese, Japanese, and South and Southeast Asian art collections.
- Join the Heart of America Japan-America Society, whose mission is to further understanding between the peoples of Japan and the Greater Kansas City area by promoting social, cultural, and educational exchanges.
- Celebrate with the Japan American Society of St. Louis at A Celebration of Japanese Culture on May 5 for an afternoon of family fun, including a tea ceremony demonstration and kimono show.
- Enjoy the Meditation Garden, Tea House, and the 13-story Carved Stone Tower featured at the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden in Springfield, a cooperative effort between The Springfield/Greene County Parks Department and The Botanical Society of Southwest Missouri.
- Check out Missouri Chinese: Two Cultures Claim This Chicken, then enjoy a steaming dish of cashew chicken in Springfield, home of this delicious fare created by David Leong nearly a half-century ago.
- Choose one or more of the Ten Good Things To Do for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month recommended by Rodney Jay C. Salinas.
- Read the St. Louis Chinese American News, a free weekly newspaper written in Chinese and English, with a circulation of 6,000 in Missouri.
- Find out more about the St. Louis chapter of the Midwest District Japanese American Citizens League, a group that worked to overturn the anti-miscegenation statute in Missouri and to gain passage of the McCarran-Walter Act, which repealed the last measures excluding Asian immigration to the United States.
- Learn more about the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture through the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
For events throughout the country:
- The 34rd Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival will be held in New York City on May 4 at Flushing from 11 a.m. to 6:10 p.m. and on May 18 in Manhattan Chinatown, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. This annual festival is the longest-running and largest event celebrating pan-Asian heritage nationwide, and more than 20,000 visitors are expected for performances, fun activities for all ages, and savory samples of Asian cuisine. For more information: 646-820-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The 21st Taiwanese American Cultural Festival will be held on May 12 at Union Square in San Francisco. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to experience a characteristic element of Taiwan known as the “night market” and to learn more about Taiwan’s history, as well as enjoy Taiwanese delicacies.
- Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival is a multiple-day Asian American Film Festival held May 10-19 in Pittsburgh.
- The Asian Pacific American Heritage Association's exclusive 21st Annual Gala will be held May 31 in Houston. For more information, contact Mariam Issa by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 713-493-9656.
To learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States:
- The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is dedicated to immersing people in uniquely-American stories of survival, success, struggle, conflict, compassion, and hope.
- View the legislative and executive branch documents related to this celebration by visiting the Law Library of Congress.
- Read more about Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Army, from the Civil War to Overseas Contingency Operations through the years.
- View exhibits, images, and videos at Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: Diversity, Leadership, Empowerment, and Beyond, hosted by the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Smithsonian Institute.
- The PBS series American Experience chronicles the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad through articles, interviews, and interactive activities.