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Celebrating culture of Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders

By Maria Childs | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | May 26, 2017

     Polynesian music and dancing filled the War­rior Transition Battalion’s Clamshell at Fort Riley as Soldiers and community members celebrated Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month May 19.

     “Each year, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the chal­lenges faced by Asian-Americans, Pacific Is­landers and native Hawaiians their vital con­tributions to America’s story,” said Sgt. 1st Class Orlando Marin, who served as the event emcee. “Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month honors Americans with a proud heri­tage that encompasses all of the Asian con­tainment and the Pacific islands of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.”

     Col. John Melton, commander of Irwin Army Community Hospital, was the guest speaker.

     “Diversity is our strength and sometimes I think we forget that,” he said. “The Army’s vi­sion for diversity is to be the national leader in embracing the strength of our diverse people.

     They continue investing time in developing culturally astute Soldiers and civilians.”

     Melton shared his culture story with the audience, tell­ing stories about his mother who immigrated to the United States. He also talked about the harm of stereotypes while try­ing to remain diverse and be­ing cognizant of stereotypes in every day interactions.

     “The Army expects us to celebrate our diversity because we are a diverse nation,” he said. “They expect us to cel­ebrate it so when we are part of the expeditionary Army it won’t be new for us and we can show respect.”

     According to the observance website, asianpacificheritage.gov, the month of May was cho­sen to commemorate the im­migration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the an­niversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

     At the end of the event, Lt. Col. Alexander Murray, 1st In­fantry Division acting chief of staff, presented Melton with a “Big Red One” token of appreci­ation for his role as guest speaker.

     “It’s got to be nerve-rack­ing to get up in front of people you don’t know and perform,” Murray said of the performers at the event.

     And then, Murray and Melton were able to join in the dancing fun as Big Red One Soldiers danced to conclude the event.

 

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