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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Duckworth Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by Keynoting APAICS Gala

Duckworth Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by Keynoting APAICS Gala

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) keynoted the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Gala Awards Dinner this evening, where she discussed the AAPI community’s accomplishments, her experiences with poverty and hunger during her childhood in Southeast Asia, and the importance of diversity and representation to our nation. Duckworth attended the 25thanniversary Gala as a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Photos from tonight’s event are availablehere.

Key points:

·         “In a very literal sense, Asian Americans helped unite this country, helping build the railroad that stretched from sea to shining sea. We laid the tracks… tilled the fields... started the businesses... and picked up the rifles necessary to develop and defend the nation we loved… day after day, helping prove that America’s greatest asset is the diversity of its people.
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·         “That is the America I fell in love with before I had ever even stepped foot on its soil… I spent my childhood bouncing around Southeast Asia, moving from country to country as my father brought humanitarian aid to refugee camps throughout the region… I learned the power of even the smallest acts of kindness, and I learned what America meant to these poorer-than-poor families half a world away.
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·         “To me, America became defined by its empathy, by its generosity to those in need. I saw it as a country that led the world not with its might, but with its compassion and its values. As a nation that was great because it was good.
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·         “Nowhere else in the world would my story have been possible. My family moved to Hawaii after my dad lost his job... We struggled... I still remember my dad walking from payphone to payphone, hoping to find just 50 cents so me and my brother could buy lunch at school the next day. And I still remember going to the grocery store and counting out our last five one-dollar food stamps to buy as much bread and bologna as possible—then praying we’d have enough to last the week.
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·         “But most of all, I remember the neighbors and the teachers and the strangers who made it possible for us to survive… who helped us scrape by. People like my public school English teacher, who’d regularly find excuses to keep a few of us hungry kids after the final bell, then apologize for keeping us late by digging into his own pocket and handing us a dollar or two to get some food on our way home… The same uniquely American generosity that my dad showed those refugees in Cambodia and Laos was given right back to us when we landed on U.S. soil.
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·         “To me, that is America… a 3.5-million-square-mile community where someone who isn’t wealthy would still reach into their own pocket to help a stranger… no matter the color of their skin, the country where they were born or the fluency of their English… That remains true today, despite the rhetoric we’ve heard from some over the past few years.
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·         “So now, we must both honor how far we’ve come and recognize the work still left to be done to ensure that every Asian American—and every other person, regardless of race—can achieve the American Dream.

APAICS is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process. APAICS programs focus on developing leadership, building public policy knowledge, and promoting Asian Pacific Americans in public office at the local, state, and federal levels.

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