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    Assistant to the DISA Director discusses the importance of AAPI Month



    Story by Lt. Col. Edward Shank 

    Defense Information Systems Agency

    Message from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Garrett S. Yee, Assistant to the Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency:

    As many of you know, May is Asian American/Pacific Islanders or AAPI Month. It’s a time we put aside to focus on what people from backgrounds similar to mine, contribute to the overall American culture.

    They are U.S. citizens who trace their lineage back to places like Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

    Often times people outside the AAPI community think that this is a month for Asians to celebrate OUR cultures.

    Not exactly.

    What we are celebrating is what Asians and Pacific Islanders have added to the overall AMERICAN culture.

    Imagine an America without Asian restaurants martial arts, the musical genius of Yo-Yo Ma, fashion designer Vera Wang, Olympic figure skater Kristy Yamaguchi, Medal of Honor Recipient and Senator Daniel Inoye, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang or any of the 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that contributes to America’s work force and fight in our wars.

    And, while we are proud of where we come from, we are, after all, Americans first. A nation of people from all around the world coming together to form something unique--something greater than just the sum of our parts. A diverse group of people united by a common cause.

    That was never more true than it was in the days, weeks and months following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Those of us who lived through that time remember streets lined with American flags flown in front of homes from coast to coast, strangers on the street began thanking military members for their service and people being just a little nicer to one another.

    But we’ve been through a lot since then. Twenty years of war, three presidents and one global pandemic later, it feels like we’ve lost some of that collective kindness.

    Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, extremists around the world have begun using the disease as justification for racially motivated violence. According to a recent study conducted at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States have increased by nearly 150 percent in the year since the pandemic began. Much of the violence in the news is directed towards Chinese Americans due to the possible linkage to COVID-19’s origination.

    Even more disturbing is the fact that the majority of the violence is directed toward the elderly, many of whom are not even of Chinese decent let alone ever visited that country.

    But, this is not who we are as a nation. America is a nation of immigrants. America was founded on the principals of freedom and equality.

    As military members and federal employees, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. What makes our oath unique is that it is not to a person, like other counties around the world, but to an idea. That idea is that all people are created equal.

    We pledge our loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, a document created to “establish justice” and “insure domestic tranquility.”

    America’s strength comes from our ability to learn from one another, to gather the best parts of EVERY culture and add them to our COLLECTIVE culture. Our citizens are not just Asian American or European American or African American, we are AMERICAN — a blend of many cultures and we are better for that.

    Since World War II, many members of my family served in the United States military. My Uncle Jimmy Ino was awarded a Purple Heart when he was wounded in Europe fighting with the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment, an all Japanese American Army unit. My Aunt Sue Kumagai was one of the first Asian American females to reach the rank of colonel when she served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

    In total, more than a dozen members of my immediate family dawned the uniform of the United States military, each of them paving the way for the generations of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that followed.

    But my story is only one of thousands that can be told by members of our workforce.

    Throughout the month of May, DISA will be showcasing stories that highlight the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our agency. Individuals who bring unique perspectives to our team through their history, culture and contributions to the overall culture of this great nation. I hope that you will take a few minutes out of your busy day to check them out.

    Have a great day and thank you for all that you do for our nation!



    Date Taken: 05.01.2021
    Date Posted: 05.04.2021 07:58
    Story ID: 395524
    Location: FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MD, US 

    Web Views: 83
    Downloads: 1