(From left: Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao)
The Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
6:04 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much. I’m very humbled by that warm introduction and very grateful for the presence of so many great Americans at this special gathering on behalf of the First Family and the President of the United States. Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)
And would everyone join me in thanking the 18th Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Elaine Chao, for her distinguished career in public service? (Applause.) She is a role model for millions, and I just am so grateful to be able to welcome you here, welcome this outstanding group to the White House to join a celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It is great to have you all here. (Applause.)
Let me also say I was in the back room listening to another friend of mine who you heard from today and is another great member of this community, and now is the head of the Center of Medicaid and Medicare Services — and a Hoosier — (laughter) — Seema Verma. Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings from the President of the United States, President Donald Trump. And I bring the President’s gratitude for all that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders do every day to enrich the life of this nation. (Applause.)
This room is living proof that people of Asian-Pacific descent — from Indonesia to India, from the Solomon Islands to South Korea, from every nation in between — you are an indispensable part of the American story, and your communities have contributed leaders like those two standing next to me in every facet of American life.
In addition to Secretary Chao and Seema Verma, we have a room filled today with leaders from the Asian American community and Pacific Islander communities across America. And give yourselves a round of applause for building a stronger and more prosperous America. (Applause.)
My wife Karen and I just traveled the Asia Pacific on President Trump’s behalf last month, and throughout my trip I saw firsthand the immensely varied and vibrant cultures that call that region home. It made me all the more grateful that those cultures and their people and so many others from the continent of Asia and islands of the Pacific have come here and made such a profound impact on the United States of America.
That’s really why we’re all here today. And since 1978, when President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution passed by the Congress, this has been a time here at the White House where we celebrate the contribution of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout the country’s history. And President Donald Trump is proud to continue this tradition tonight. (Applause.)
Earlier this month, the President issued a proclamation declaring, and I quote, that “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have distinguished themselves” in every area of American life. And today we honor all those who have helped to shape the nation that we love and the country that we know today.
For the better part of our nation’s history, the people of Asia and the Pacific have come to America in search of a better life and a brighter future, and now our history books are literally filled with the names of trailblazers. And today, Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent are the fastest-growing group in America. More than 20 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now call the United States their home, and they make a difference in the life of our nation every single day.
In our economies, in our churches, in our charities and our universities, in homes all across the country, communities large and small, and in government offices at every level, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are contributing every day to everything that makes America thrive and will make America great again. (Applause.)
It’s particularly meaningful for me to be with you all today because while my people came from across the other ocean, the Atlantic Ocean — my grandfather was an immigrant of this country. My great-grandmother, as the legend in our family remembers, walked my grandfather across the street and up a hill and looked west to the Ox Mountains in Ireland, and she said to my grandfather, who was a young man, that you need to go to America because there’s a future there for you. And my grandfather went as a young man, and didn’t see or speak to his mother for another 25 years. But it was extraordinary for me to literally grow up on the footstool of the American Dream. And that Irishman’s brogue still rings in my ears as I expect the accents of the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents of those that are gathered here today still ring in your ears and in your hearts.
It’s that story of America coming from the East and coming from the West, bringing the best — our children and grandchildren here and then building a great life. That’s the story of my little family, and that’s the story of the families that are gathered here. And we’re celebrating it tonight.
So let me simply say, President Trump is firmly committed to strengthening the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the years ahead, to seeing to it that your forbears, the confidence that they had in America, becomes your reality on an increasing basis. Because your success is America’s success, and this President wants you and every American, no matter the background, to accomplish more, to climb higher, to make tomorrow even better than today.
The truth is that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are an integral part of America’s past, but they’re even a bigger part of America’s future. So today I say with confidence our future is bright — brighter than ever before. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I know with your help, we will make America great again.
Thank you for joining us to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And God bless you. (Applause.)
6:12 P.M. EDT