News: 504th BFSB hosts Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Story by Staff Sgt. Shelia Sledge
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Soldiers from the rank of private to colonel came to West Fort Hood Fitness Center Wednesday for the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration. More than 100 Soldiers and civilian sat in the bleachers watching the first ever observance hosted by the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade here.
Just like February is Black History Month, and March is Women's History Month, May has been proclaimed Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month celebrates the struggles and barriers the Pacific Islanders and Asian American in the United Stated had to overcome.
The month of May was chosen because the first Japanese immigrates came to the United States in May 1843. In 1990 Former President George H. W. Bush signed an extension for this celebration from a week-long to a month-long. In 1992 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was officially signed into law by congress. This year President Barack Obama kept the tradition and proclaimed May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Even though the Asian Pacific Americans have been in the U.S. for more than 160 years now, they are still known as a minorities group within the U.S.
The Asian Pacific American population made up less than 4.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2002.
504th BFSB has about one to two percent of Asian Pacific Americans, said Sgt. 1st Class Marvin B. Morgan, the equal opportunity advisor for 504th BFSB. That is about 120 out of 1300 Soldiers in the brigade.
This observance was held because, "We need to educate the Soldiers within the ranks," said Morgan. "We have a lot of Soldiers that don't know about different cultures and their struggles." Most Soldiers didn't know that the yo-yo and dominoes were invented by Asian Pacific American.
This is just two examples of fun things that children play with everyday that were invented by someone within this minority group.
People rarely hear about what Asian Pacific American had to endure coming to the U.S. Still to this day they are having trouble adapting to the American culture and our way of life. Most Asian Pacific Americans still face language and tradition barriers so they look to Asian Pacific American supports groups for help.
Several organizations made up of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have come together to form support group for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. One of the few organizations for Asian Americans is the Asian American Cultural Center.
The Asian American Cultural Center was founded ten years ago by Amy Wong Mok, who is the president and CEO of the center and was the guest speaker for the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration hosted by 504th BFSB.
This center is a place where Asian Pacific Americans can call home and a place to help them learn and understand some of the American culture and the American way of life, said Mok.
Asian culture is very different from American culture, said Mok. In the U.S. it is a sign of disrespect or misunderstanding when you don't look someone in the eyes when they are talking to you, but in the Asian culture you never look anyone in the eyes, she stated. These are just a few things that the Asian American Culture Center teaches.
During the observance there was a slide show presentation about Asian Pacific American culture and many cultural booths set up for views to see what Pacific Islanders and Asian culture are like. Also there was entertainment presented by the Pacific Height Dance Organization based out of Central Texas.
The dance team conducted dances from different islands to include Tahiti and Hawaii. The dancers dressed in the traditional curt's and coconut bras.
Asian cuisine and a cake cutting ceremony was followed by the observance which was held at the West Fort Hood dining facility to mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the first ever observance hosted by 504th BFSB.
For more information about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month contact Sgt. 1st Class Marvin B. Morgan, 504th BFSB, the Equal Opportunity Advisor at (254) 288-9273.
Information about populations was found on www.census.gov.