News: Station recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander Month
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - People from all walks of life contribute to the societies of the world, the states included. Whether white, black or Hispanic, the plethora of people who shape this great nation is innumerable.
May is nationally known as Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and it is during this time when particular emphasis is placed on recognizing the contributions of those of either Asian or Pacific Islander descent.
“This year’s theme is building leadership, embracing cultural values and inclusion,” said Gunnery Sgt. Alvin P. Cruz, station equal opportunity advisor.
May was chosen specifically to represent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in recognition of two important events – the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869.
The purpose of the impending celebration, as with any other cultural celebration, is to raise awareness of the United States’ diversity and recognize the country is more than just the proverbial “melting pot.”
“At our schoolhouse, we got in trouble by saying that,” said Cruz. “If it’s a melting pot, you put chocolate, white, all that stuff in there, and it turns brown. So, really you’re not being diverse. You’re all one culture.”
The best description to fit this new mode of thinking is that of a salad, everything is mixed together, but still discernible.
“That’s what the United States is,” said Cruz.
There are several events slated for residents to take part in during the month. May 22 is scheduled for the official 2013 Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month observation at the Club Iwakuni ballroom from 12-1 p.m. A showcase of presentations representing some of the cultures which make up the diversity of the Pacific region, such as a taiko drum recital, a hula dance, and singing of both the Filipino and Japanese national anthems.
The Marine Corps is a culture unto itself, with its own mannerisms, terminology and ideals, but the Corps’ culture is made of the many varying cultures of Marines.
“You have to appreciate your people,” said Cruz. “The biggest asset the Marine Corps has is its people. We’re so diverse.”
The Marine Corps is a well-oiled machine, consisting of many different parts that function together in perfect harmony. From time to time, these pieces must be taken care of. The Marines are the gears in the machine and these cultural events are the Corps’ way of taking care of its own and maintaining the machine.