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Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month
by Joseph Patrick Meissner

On Wednesday evening, May 27, 2014, we all celebrated the Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month of May at Cleveland City Hall. Present were Mayor Frank Jackson, Director Blaine Griffin from the Community Relations Department, members of the Community Relations Board such as Dr. Reverend Charles Lucas (the Vice-president of the Board), Reverend Grady Stevenson, Mrs. Elizabeth Hardaway and Gia Hoa Ryan, who are Board Members.

Appearing at this Celebration were representatives of some 65 different Greater Cleveland organizations of varied Asian Backgrounds and Heritages.

I was very privileged to be asked to give a short speech related to the Indochinese communities and the Friendship Foundation. "You have thirty seconds, Joe," I was told. Naturally, I exercised the "Lawyer's Special Privilege" and took one minute to make my seven points.

Here is my speech.

Go Back! Go Back ! This is one of the themes of the Friendship Foundation, We all need to go back to our First Motherlands. We need to see our relatives and friends. We need to see where we came from. We need to celebrate.

Come back Come back. This is the second theme of the Friendship Foundation. We return to America. We bring back greetings, ideas, and projects. We bring over more people to settle in America and especially in the Cleveland area.

Third Theme: We help those overseas. The help can be Scholarships and Medical aid. In twenty years the Friendship Foundation has provided over 20 million dollars of funds, aid, supplies, and services to Indochina. Ms. Ryan has sponsored over 1,000 volunteers who have done humanitarian work over there.

Fourth Theme: Ms. Ryan has this year been setting up business relationships with people and companies in Viet Nam. In the past, we often met with people in a local area. "We like your charity," they would say, "But we want even more your business. We want to trade We want to sell our products in America and help you sell your products in Viet Nam,"

Fifth theme of the Friendship Foundation is to help immigrants and ESL families understand their income tax eights and duties. The Friendship Foundation has sponsored one of the oldest tax clinics in America. It has helped thousands of people. Tonight we have various flyers and cards with our services.

Sixth, The Foundation brings our community together, Ms. Ryan oversees the Sai Gon Plaza as a community center for social gatherings, weddings, and other meetings.

Seventh, the Foundation promotes our Asian languages, cultures, and traditions. So tonight I continue with our language lessons. Say "Chao." That means "hello." It is like the Italian word for hello. "Chao" can also men "Good-by." So "Chao," and "Thank you."

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