94th AAMDC celebration embraces cultural values

| June 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
The Volunteer Dance Group perform a Samoan dance during the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration on the lanai of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Post Exchange, May 31. (Photo by Sgt. Louis Lamar 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command Public Affairs)

The Volunteer Dance Group perform a Samoan dance during the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration on the lanai of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Post Exchange, May 31.

Story and photos by
Sgt. Louis Lamar
94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
Public Affairs

The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command hosted its first-ever Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration on the lanai of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Post Exchange, May 31.

The celebration was held in order to recognize, appreciate and celebrate all the contributions of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans and to educate individuals about the cultural differences.

Sgt. 1st. Class Elray Dumas, equal opportunity adviser, 94th AAMDC, and the lead organizer for the event, said, “For me, it was all about training and showcasing our appreciation in such a way that met the objectives of the unit’s equal opportunity program.”

The theme for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month was “Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion.”

The guest speaker for the celebration was Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia Jr., senior enlisted leader for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s Special Troops Battalion, and a native of American Samoa.

“When I think of days like this, I reflect on culture,” said Tia. “Today is about culture. It’s about our traditions and the history of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Tia later stated, “Our future depends on our ability to learn from the past and be the leaders of humanity and equality of all Americans. This is how our Army will lead into the next century, by building relationships, building leaders, embracing cultural values and understanding that the sacrifice of those Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders — despite racial discrimination, hatred, violence and bigotry, they served this country with honor and patriotism, time and time again.”

“I think it’s really important to have observances like these,” said Cpl. Gloria Tuiasosopo, a human resources specialist for the 94th AAMDC and a native of American Samoa. “When we do this, it shows that America and the Army actually care about the different people who make up our strong nation.”

Tia later quoted former President Theodore Roosevelt: “Americanism is not and was never a matter of race or ancestry.”

Tuiasosopo also added, “My favorite part of the ceremony was Command Sgt. Maj. Tia’s speech.”

The celebration included selections from the 25th Infantry Division Band.

Also, Asian-American and Pacific Islander songs and dances were performed by Sampaguita National Association (Filipino folk dance), Kupuna Uluwehi Kalilikane (hula), Volunteer Dance Group (Samoan dance) and the Chinese Lion Dance Association.

A lot of coordination and planning between the 94th AAMDC, the Exchange and a variety of outside agencies went into making the event an overwhelming success.

“The thing that impressed me the most was the teamwork of my unit. It was a little rough in the beginning, but because everyone wanted to pitch in and help, we sorted all the tasks out and everything just fell into place,” said Dumas. “I am so happy about the outcome that I am excited to start planning our next event. I want to try and include the other service branches, if possible.”

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