News: In honor of Asian-Pacific heritage
Story by Staff Sgt. Teresa Adams
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The national anthem marked the beginning of the 2011 Asian-Pacific American Heritage Observance, an audience rich with diversity stood unified and honored the American flag, symbolic of the nation that binds them.
Service members, civilians and family members attended the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Observance to expand their knowledge and experience of cultural diversity during the observance, hosted by the 42nd Military Police Brigade at the American Lake Community Center here, May 17.
This year’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month’s theme is “Diversity, Leadership, Empowerment and Beyond.”
“Different cultures helped to weave the multi-colored tapestry that makes up the country you love and are willing to give your life for.” said the event coordinator, Sgt 1st Class Billy J. Thomas, a native of Baltimore, Md., equal opportunity advisor for the brigade.
“Asian-Pacific Americans continue to shape America’s future as entrepreneurs, artists, educators, public servants, scientist and explorers. They have challenged the minds of our next generation,” said U.S. Pacific Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua J. Savusa, a native of American Samoa, during his speech at the observance.
Members of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center of Tacoma, Wash., performed traditional dances from Hawaii and New Zealand. The crowd swayed to the quick beat of the drums as they watched Samoan tribal dances from Toa-O-Samoa, a dance group of soldiers and family members representing every major command on JBLM.
“We have our own unique culture and languages and our own respect and honor,” said Faaluaina Pritchard, native of The Village of Amouli, American Samoa, and executive director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. “We know in our hearts that once people know this about us, they will accept us more respectfully. There is no reason why we should live without honor and respect for one another. The only reason we don’t have respect for one another, at times, is because we don’t know about our differences.”
Several Asian-Pacific American groups were represented in displays of cultural items placed around the stage. Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Hawaiian and Vietnamese ethnic displays were provided by the cultural center, Soldiers, and the JBLM Library and Museum. One display, provided by the cultural center, proudly exhibited the flags of 47 Asian-Pacific countries.
"I think it's kind of nice to actually walk by and feel like you are in that country for that very moment as they talk about their rich history," said Sgt. Terry R. Rasch, medic, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who brought his family to the observance."It's great to always learn about somebody else, where they are from and what they do.”