Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Observance 2016

by Sergeant First Class Jamaal Black 19th ESC, Equal Opportunity Advisor
Stripes Korea

Camp Carroll, Korea - Service Members, friends and families of Area IV paid tribute to the Asian-American community during the annual Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance at the Camp Carroll Community Activity Center.

Hosted by the 6th Ordnance Battalion, this year’s theme “Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies,” commemorates Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for their contributions to the United States and military service.

The Asian/Pacific-American designation encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia with more than 50 ethnic groups and 100 spoken languages.

“It is important to celebrate AAPI heritage month, because in order to be a successful Army and Nation we need to understand everyone's background,” said Second Lieutenant Katherine A. Sheaffer, 84th Ordnance Company Executive Officer. “We all have a different way of living, so to take the time and really appreciate the differences will help shape our military and civilization in the long run.”

The arriving attendees were given Hawaiian leis to wear as a customary welcoming gift and were immersed in Polynesian culture as the event showcased traditional Korean, Samoan, and Hawaiian dances.

Guest speaker Colonel Michael B. Siegl, 403rd Army Field Support Brigade Commander, emphasized the importance of learning about different cultures and shared stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who made history in the military.

“There are an infinite number of personal stories that talks to what it means to be an Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said Col Siegl.

Attendees were also treated to authentic Asian and Pacific Islander food samplings that were prepared by Soldiers of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent. 

In 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

“The different cultures provide us with an opportunity to go beyond our comfort zone,” said 2lt Sheaffer, “I truly believe by taking time to submerge oneself in a different culture will grow an individual in a positive manner.” 

President Barrack Obama's 2016 presidential proclamation highlights the diversity Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders bring to our nation.

“Today, AAPIs lend their rich heritage to enhancing our communities and our culture.  As artists and activists, educators and elected officials, service men and women and business owners, AAPIs help drive our country forward.” 

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