Governor Deval Patrick officially proclaimed the month of May to be Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at a celebration in Lowell tonight. Held at the Sunny Da Restaurant and sponsored by the Governor’s Asian American Commission/Advisory Council and Lowell’s Southeast Asian community, the event began with greetings from Mayor Rodney Elliott and from former city councilors Rithy Uong and Vesna Nuon followed by performances by the Angkor Dance Troupe (Cambodian), the Buddhabhavanna Cultural Dancers (Laotian) and the Karenni Dance Group (Burmese) followed by a poetry reading by Princess Chan. The master of ceremonies was Leverett Wing, the Vice-Chair of the Asian American Commission and the governor was introduced by Christina Chan, Chair of the Commission. Besides those already mentioned, current and former elected officials in attendance included Lowell School Committee member Kristin Ross Sitcawich, Lynn City Councilor Hong Net, Cambridge City Councilor and Lt. Governor candidate Leland Cheung, and former Lowell City Councilor Marty Lorrey.
Governor Patrick was visibly delighted by the various performances, so much so that he invited all the participants to join him on the stage as he read the official state proclamation urging all citizens of the Commonwealth to participate in events honoring and celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our country’s history.
In his remarks, Governor Patrick said that the dances and the poetry were important examples of how the Asian and Pacific Islander cultures “enrich us, expand us, make us stronger, and make us aware of a world that is greater than the little corner that we live in.” He thanked Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for making the Commonwealth so much stronger because of their example of resilience. Governor Patrick continued by saying that the United States was the first country ever organized around ideas and that those organizing ideas included equality, opportunity and fair play. He concluded by saying “The presence of generation after generation of new comers who lay claim to those ideals is what makes America work.”