“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May” is the opening of the Temptations’ song “My girl,” written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. And, since Sunday May 8 is Mother’s Day, that seems an appropriate quote to lead into this article. Be they daughters, partners, or parents, many of us will be celebrating that day this month. Many will also celebrate Memorial Day on the 30th. 

Both of those days are well known. But what else is happening in the month of May? Well for starters, May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It is also Haitian Heritage and Jewish American Heritage Month. Let’s look at the history of these three celebrations. 

According to my go to website nationaltoday.com, “Jews first arrived on American soil back in 1654 in New Amsterdam.” Like many immigrants, they were “In search of better opportunities and lifestyles.” Here they “could openly practice their faith and lead their lives freely without the fear of persecution.” The push for a Jewish American Heritage Month started in 1980. Congress authorized a bill allowing President Jimmy Carter to “designate a special week in either April or May” for this purpose. In April 2006, the entire month became dedicated “to recognizing and honoring” the contributions and achievements of our Jewish Americans.

America is a country with a large Haitian population. Their home country of Haiti was comprised of many descendants of Africa. In 1804, they gained their independence from France. Haiti “was the first Black Republic in the world to free itself from colonial rule.” The month of May was chosen to celebrate their heritage because Haitian Flag Day falls on May 18. In 1998, a Boston Haitian television program did a series on Haitian culture, history, and contributions to the world throughout May. In 2001, the County of Palm Beach in Florida held the first Haitian Heritage Month. In 2005, President George Bush and his wife Laura, held a celebration at the White House in honor of Haitian Heritage Month.

Asian American and Pacific American Heritage Month traces its roots a bit further back. It was originally called Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month but in 2009 changed the name to its current form. The effort to designate this celebration started in the 1970s and in June 1977, a resolution authored by Congressmembers Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta, passed proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. In July, the Senate followed suit. President Carter made it official when he signed the joint resolution in October 1978. Like many of these celebration weeks, it was extended to a full month by President George H.W. Bush when he signed a bill passed by Congress in 1990.

On the literary front, National Mother Goose Day falls on May 1. May 2 is International Harry Potter Day. Children’s Book Week runs from May second until the eighth. This week is the “longest-running national literacy initiative in the country” having been created by “Every Child a Reader” in 1919. If you can read, perhaps National Teacher Day on May 3 is a day to remember. Cartoonists get their day on May fifth. And on the seventh, Scrapbookers celebrate their craft and day. For those who enjoy Limericks, your day falls on the twelfth. On the sixteenth, biographers are recognized. May also celebrates National Creativity Day on the thirtieth of the month – so give thanks to all those who share their literary and artistic abilities with us.

May is also a month full of recognition of our public servants. School Principals’ lead the way on May 1. National Correctional Officer’s week runs from the first through the seventh. Public Service Recognition week also falls on those dates. Teacher Appreciation Week goes one day longer, not ending until the eighth. The big day however is May 5 which is Teacher Appreciation Day. National Nurses week starts on National Nurses Day which is May 6 through May 12 which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. Peace Officers Memorial Day is on May 15. It honors local, state, and federal peace officers disabled or who died in the line of duty. National EMS week is celebrated from May 15 until May 23. Finally, on May 21 you can celebrate National American Red Cross Founder’s Day in honor of Clara Barton who established this organization 140 years ago.

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