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    Adm. Harris and CIA Talk Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class James Mullen 

    U.S. Pacific Command

    CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii -- Adm. Harry B. Harris, commander of U.S Pacific Command (PACOM), delivered a speech on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to the CIA Headquarters via video-teleconference May 8.
    “It’s an honor to speak to you in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” said Harris. “I’m sorry my schedule changed and I couldn’t be there in person, but this topic is especially important to me and I hope that I can give you all something to think about.”
    The month of May represents Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in recognition of the first Japanese immigration to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. It also commemorates the completion of the transcontinental railroad, whose tracks were laid mostly by Chinese immigrants, on May 10, 1869.
    Harris has spent almost half of his Naval career in the Pacific. It’s not just the responsibilities of duty that makes the Pacific important to Harris; he was born in Japan to a Japanese mother. His father was an enlisted Sailor in the U.S. Navy.
    “My dad’s sea stories formed some of my earliest memories and inspired me to serve, but it was my mother who taught me the true meaning of service,” said Harris. “While my father fought in World War II, my mother and her family experienced the cruelties of war in Japan. She was from Kobe. She lost her home, her school, some of her family members, and friends in air raids. After surviving the destruction that war brought to Imperial Japan—as well as the post-war deprivations of the late '40s—she met and then married an American Sailor, my father.”
    Growing in a culturally diverse family gave Harris first-hand experience on the ever-changing shift in diversity the world continues to experience. He feels embracing change, diversity, and inclusiveness allows growth throughout the military ranks to accurately depict the country’s demographic.
    “I believe that embracing diversity is vital to both our present and our future,” said Harris. “We cannot achieve healthy growth without it. One former Chief of Naval Operations rightly said that as leaders, we must not be locked in time—we must anticipate and embrace the demographic changes of tomorrow to build an organization that always reflects our country’s make up.”
    The military’s continued expansion in diversity through race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation has enabled opportunities for personnel from a variety of backgrounds. The Pearl Harbor-based USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) reminds Harris of the ship’s namesake and the impact he had on the Navy.
    “Gordon Chung-Hoon, a Hawaiian-born American of Chinese heritage, was the first officer of Asian Pacific descent to command a Navy warship, USS Sigsbee,” said Harris. “In 1945, when a kamikaze suicide plane caused explosions and flooding onboard his destroyer, Chung-Hoon’s leadership enabled the crew to save the ship. Awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, he was later promoted to rear admiral, the first officer of Asian Pacific heritage to make Flag rank.”
    Harris credits the accomplishments of individuals like Chung-Hoon for paving the way for even further diversity and the increased perspective it brings.
    “Diversity is about the power of choosing the best from the entire population—and not selecting the top of a sub-group,” said Harris. “It's about new and different ideas that spring naturally from the attributes our people bring with them from their various walks of life.”
    In his closing remarks to the CIA Headquarters, Harris asked the audience to value one another and to focus on what everyone has in common.
    “I’m challenging each and every one of you to do your part in continuing to move our nation forward in the right direction,” said Harris. “That right direction is valuing each individual on the basis of their contributions. This becomes easy if we focus on what we all have in common—a love for our country.”



    Date Taken: 05.10.2017
    Date Posted: 05.10.2017 18:43
    Story ID: 233377
    Location: CAMP H.M. SMITH, HI, US 

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