CAMP HENRY, South Korea – The 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion in Area IV hosted the National Native American Month observance at the theater on Camp Henry Nov. 21 to honor Native American contributions and celebrate the cultural impact in American history.
“The purpose of this event is to celebrate all the Native Americans who have immeasurably helped build this country,” said Staff Sgt. Edgar Campuzano, 168th MMB equal opportunity leader. “We commemorate their enduring achievements and reaffirm the vital role they play in enriching the character of our nation.”
President Barack Obama proclaimed November 2012 as National Native American Heritage Month to recognize myriad contributions Native Americans have made and commemorate the month with appropriate programs and activities.
This year's theme that was chosen by the Society of American Indian Government Employees was, "Serving our people, serving our nations: Native visions for future generations."
The observance featured Staff Sgt. Richard G. Whisenhunt, partial Cherokee Indian from the 168th MMB, as a guest speaker to talk about the history of National Native American Heritage Month and Native Americans who distinguished themselves in the military over the years.
His speech focused on the contributions of Navajo code talkers used to make improvements in communications during World War II and other Native American soldiers who distinguished themselves in numerous battles throughout American history.
“This observance is to introduce a new aspect to the soldiers that there are many Native Americans who served and contributed in ways that they never knew of,” Whisenhunt said. “I hope you could understand that there are Native Americans who serve among you, and open your eyes to get a new look into what you have in the military when you leave here today.”
Native Americans have participated in every war and conflict that the nation has been a part of over the past 200 years.
“It is important to have an observance in the military for the military members to understand diverse cultures that make up our military culture,” said Master Sgt. Gilbert S. Means, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command EO program manager. “Each ethnic group brings a certain set of values, and it is equally important to our nation and the military structure to have different set of values, belief, knowledge and experiences that makes us as great as we are right now.”
The ceremony ended with Whisenhunt receiving a gift of appreciation for taking time to share his culture with the soldiers in Area IV.
“I think today’s event was a great opportunity for the soldiers here to come out and learn about Native American Indian experiences. I am sure that everybody who participated in the event was able to take away something from it,” Means said.
For more information on National Native American Heritage Month, visit the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute website at www.DEOMI.org.