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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 12, 2006

President Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Presents President's Volunteer Service Awards
The East Room

President's Remarks

2:07 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Welcome. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. I like to call it the People's House. I'm glad you could join us today to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This is the month we recognize the many accomplishments of Americans who trace their origins to the Asian Pacific region, and we honor the contributions they make to our great land.

Across our country, Asian Pacific Americans are making their mark in all walks of life, including business and law and politics and education, community service, the arts, and science. Today more Asian Pacific Americans serve in my administration than in any other administration in history, and two of them serve in my Cabinet. (Applause.) And I am delighted to recognize Secretary Elaine Chao and Secretary Norm Mineta, and thank them for their great work for our country. (Applause.)

I want to thank Rudy Pamintuan -- he is the Chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. And I want to thank all the other Commission members who are here. I enjoyed my visit. Thank you for serving. (Applause.)

I want to thank the members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who are here today. Thank you all for coming. God bless you. (Applause.) Veterans who have set such a fine example for those who wear the uniform today. And I would like to welcome the men and women in uniform who have joined us today. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for your service. (Applause.)

These men and women are on the front line of defending the United States of America, and in so doing, they're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. And we're really proud of your service. (Applause.)

Fourteen million Americans can claim ancestry from the Asian Pacific region. Through a commitment to educational excellence you help raise standards and show that the American Dream is within reach for all who study hard and persevere. Through your love of family and community you help unite us as a people. Through entrepreneurship and innovation you have strengthened our economy, creating jobs for other [sic] and thereby contributing to the opportunity of this nation.

In 2004 I created the President's Advisory Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders to improve the opportunities for small business development. And to keep this good work moving forward, I signed an executive order this morning that renews the commission for another year. (Applause.)

America has thrived as a nation because we've always welcomed newcomers, who, in turn, embrace our values and our way of life. Every immigrant who lives by these values makes our country better and makes our future brighter as "one nation under God." (Applause.)

We're grateful to the many Asian Pacific Americans who serve our nation in many ways. I just honored those who serve our nation by wearing the uniform, but there are all kinds of ways to serve America. The President's Volunteer Service Award is the highest honor given in recognition of those who have contributed their time and their talents to those in need.

I created this award because I understand the great strength of the United States of America is not found in our military, and it's certainly not because of the size of our wallets, it's because the strength of America is found in the hearts and souls of generous citizens who answer to a universal call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself.

Five folks here today have earned this award by volunteering to improve the communities in which they live, and thereby helping our fellow citizens. They've heard that call to serve something greater than themselves. And by the way, by answering the call, they've inspired others to serve, you just don't know it.

The volunteers we recognize have brought care and outreach to veterans and men and women in uniform; they've helped children learn to read; they've extended food and shelter to hurricane victims in our Gulf Coast; they've helped underprivileged high school students prepare their SATs; and they've aided immigrants who have recently arrived in our country. They have served our nation in distinct ways, and in so doing have made America a better place to live. (Applause.)

I am proud of the achievements, the many achievements of our citizens of Asian and Pacific Island heritage. You really have enriched America by your contributions. You've made us a better land. And the five we honor today have done so in a unique way. And so I join all Americans in congratulating you and wishing you continued success of your work. I want to thank you for what you've done. I ask God's blessings on all who are here and their families, as well as our great nation.

And now I ask the Commander to please read the citations that will enable me to award the volunteer awards to you.

(Citations are read and awards are given.)

Now you can see why I love an event such as these. (Laughter.) What a great country we have. And I want to thank you all for being active citizens in the greatest land on the face of the Earth.

May God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 2:20 P.M. EDT

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