Asian Pacific heritage observed

| May 24, 2013 | 0 Comments
Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance during the Asian Pacific Heritage Month observance at the Sgt. Smith Theater, May 17. The annual event is held to honor the legacy of Asian Pacific American heritage and included demonstrations of various cultural dances from Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa.

Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance during the Asian Pacific Heritage Month observance at the Sgt. Smith Theater, May 17. The annual event is held to honor the legacy of Asian Pacific American heritage and included demonstrations of various cultural dances from Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa.

Story and photos by
Sgt. Ariana Cary
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The 25th Infantry Division hosted its annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month observance at the Sgt. Smith Theater, May 17.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of Asian Pacific Americans’ contributions to history, culture and society.

The observance began as a weeklong event in May, 1978. In 1990, Congress voted to expand it from a week to a monthlong celebration.

The observance included demonstrations of cultural dances, such as the Hawaiian hula, the Tahitian drum dance and the Samoan mosquito dance. Volunteer Entertainment, a group of service and family members from Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter, performed the dances.

Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance.

Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance.

The guest speaker for the event was Sgt. Maj. Maria Pascual Jackson, U.S. Army-Pacific noncommissioned officer in charge of retention, who was born and raised in the Philippines. Since joining the Army in 1985, Jackson has served in various leadership positions and earned many awards, including the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.

“It’s always great to be part of something greater,” said Jackson. “Asian Pacific Americans have made huge contributions to this nation and the military.”

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have served in the military from the Civil War to the present. During World War II, despite being subjected to prejudice and discrimination, and being shipped off to internment camps, a large number of Nisei (first generation Japanese-Americans born in the U.S.) volunteered for service in the U.S. Army.

The 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team fighting unit was composed almost entirely of Soldiers of Japanese descent who volunteered to fight. The 442nd is considered to be the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the U.S. Army, earning it the nickname “the Purple Heart Battalion.”

By the end of the war, Soldiers of the 442nd had earned 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals,15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 9,486 Purple Hearts.

However, upon the unit’s return from war, the general American population had not changed their anti-Japanese views due to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance.

Soldiers and family members with the 25th ID perform a traditional Tahitian drum dance.

“We need to value each other’s differences,” said Jackson. “Oftentimes, the root of discrimination and racism stems from not understanding other cultures or where other people come from. But each time a person opens up their heart to another person, it gives way to new understanding and sometimes ends prejudice.”

By 1965, immigration law finally abolished national origins as a basis for allocating immigration quotas, giving Asian Pacific Americans full legal equality with other groups.

“Diversity doesn’t mean a state of division,” Jackson said, “but more like a point of respect. It is up to this generation of Americans to make sure that the United States of America is living up to its promise of being a place where all things are possible and a land where all individuals have dignity and worth.

“I am of Spanish, Filipino and Japanese decent, and I am an American,” Jackson said.

The term Asian Pacific American refers to those of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Laotian, Cambodian, Thai, Pakistani or Samoan decent, to name some. The Asian Pacific American designation encompasses over 50 ethnic or language groups.

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Category: News, Observances

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