JBA celebrates AAPIHM
By Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez, 11th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 30, 2017
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Joint Base Andrews members recognized Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a culture show at the base theater here, May 24.
The month-long observance was signed into law by the former U.S. President, George H.W. Bush, in 1992, and from that year forward, congress permanently designated May as AAPIHM.
The theme for the 2017 AAPIHM is “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.”
"AAPIs have served honorably in the United States military and in every war since the War of 1812 and continue to serve our Nation admirably today," wrote Anthony M. Kurta, performing duties under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in a memorandum released in April. "Presently there are nearly 116,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders serving in the military and as civilians in the DoD's Total Force. DoD recognizes the tremendous contributions of AAPIs to both the Nation and the DoD mission and is grateful for their unselfish service in securing and protecting our great Nation."
The event celebrated the culture, traditions and history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who have forged this country’s history.
“This event is significant so we don’t forget Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage,” said Master Sgt. Joseph O’Donnell, 811th Security Forces Squadron executive aircraft security raven programs manager. “I volunteered to help run this event to learn about my Filipino roots and teach others about Asian culture.”
The culture show began with a speech from U.S. congresswoman Amata Coleman Radewagen.
“It’s my pleasure to be here to help recognize the many contributions and achievements Asian/Pacific Americans have made,” said Radewagen. “I want to encourage [those here] to take what [they] learned today and share it. Asian/Pacific Americans have come a long way, but there is much to be done. I know by uniting our voices together, and increasing our involvement of our people, it will only serve to strengthen this great nation.”
Radewagen, a delegate for the U.S. House of Representatives from American Samoa, and was elected as American Samoa’s third Member of Congress on November 4, 2014. She is the first American Samoan woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and her party’s highest ranking Asian Pacific elected federal officeholder in the nation.
“We are happy Radewagen came out and spoke at our event,” said Sonny Vaa, Presidential Airlift Squadron aircraft security NCO. “We want to promote diversity and educate the base. Just having Congresswoman Radewagen here will open up people’s eyes that Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are involved not only in the military, but also in many other institutions, including congress.”
After Coleman’s speech, dishes from Guam, India, Japan, and the Philippines, were served for culture show attendees, followed by Polynesian, Balinese and Indian dances, and a martial arts demonstration.
“Our team loved planning this event,” said Tech. Sgt. Kaela Wood, 11th Wing commander’s administration section chief. “Everyone enjoys entertainment and food, but the most important thing about these heritage events is to educate people.”