KABUL, Afghanistan - Approximately 10 feet from the Cantina on New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, music could be heard playing inside; enticing Soldiers to want to sway with the beat and eventually enter to see the cause of the celebration.
Inside the Cantina, Soldiers from the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and other Soldiers from around NKC were celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month May 19. Among those celebrating was Sgt. 1st Class James Hannam, the container management noncommissioned officer in charge with the 3rd ESC.
Hannam provided the introduction during the ceremony and talked about the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage.
“Since 1977, the month of May has been a time to recognize the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to the American story,” said Hannam.
Each year, the president of the United States issues a presidential proclamation in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Hannam read an excerpt of this year’s proclamation during his speech.
“During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and we reflect on the many ways they have enriched our nation,” said Hannam. “Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend, and strengthen our nation – as farm works and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists and leaders of government.”
During the ceremony, a group of dancers in colorful garb performed two dances, "Pate’-Pate’" and "Civa-Pacifica/Jungle."
The guest speaker for the event was Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto, the command sergeant major of International Joint Command and Fort Bragg senior enlisted adviser.
Vimoto spoke on the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made in America’s history.
“Since the years of our nation and our Army, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played a crucial role in writing and shaping our history,” said Vimoto. “Beginning in 1763 with a group of Filipino sailors who established a settlement in Saint Malo, Louisiana, people from Asia came to America seeking refuge, freedom and new opportunities.”
“Since then Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have fought to preserve unity between the North and the South, protected our nation from east to west, and received our nation’s highest medal of valor,” said Vimoto. “They have served in all levels of the Army and have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and currently serve as advisers to President Obama.”
Vimoto also talked about diverse leadership and expanding opportunities during his speech.
“If you look at the theme diverse leadership, what comes to mind is a culture of service and honor. More than 36,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Soldiers serve in today’s Army,” said Vimoto. “We must continue to lead the way to provide diverse leadership and take advantage of expanding opportunities for America and our Army. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the strength of our Army, and America’s Army is the strength of our nation.”
In closing, Vimoto thanked Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Thank you for all that you do and for your service to our great nation,” said Vimoto. “Thank you for making a difference in our Army and for making a difference here in Afghanistan.”