Soldiers of I Corps celebrated and commemorated the important contributions of all the individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the nation, during an observance ceremony Tuesday on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The Asian-American, Pacific Islander Heritage Month observance was hosted by 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 62nd Medical Brigade in order to honor individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who have historically served in the armed services with great valor and distinction in every war since the War of 1812.
The 2018 theme across the armed forces for the observances is, “Unite Our Vision by Working Together.”
“The impact was quite big as we used this year’s theme and brought Soldiers of JBLM and the community together to share their cultures,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Buck, the 62nd Medical Brigade equal opportunity adviser and organizer of the observance.
During the ceremony, the JBLM Soldiers of the Pacific, wearing colorful cultural based attire, performed traditional Samoan dances, joined by local community civilians and veterans. Captain Mylene Lyons, from 7th Infantry Division, also sang a traditional song during the observance.
“The fact that we celebrate various cultures within the armed services has a huge impact on our minority populations,” said Col. Tawanna McGhee-Thondique, acting commander, 62nd Med. Bde. “It makes them feel valued and important as we appreciate the culture and diversity that the minority Soldiers and communities bring to our rich culture as a nation.”
When Congress approved and President George H. W. Bush signed Public Law 102-450 in 1992 designating May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month,” every year it provides the opportunity to honor those Americans descending from Asia and the Pacific Islands and to recognize their past and continuing contributions to the success and development of our nation.
“These types of programs are very worthwhile and important for the community,” McGhee-Thondique said. “They show dignity, respect and appreciation for each member of the armed services. We should continue to celebrate and appreciate every culture within our armed services.”
The guest speaker for the observance was retired Brig. Gen. Oscar Bautista Hilman, born in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Republic of the Philippines. Hilman, a former deputy commanding general for I Corps, and an enduring friend of the JBLM community, spoke about the celebration of the Asian-American, Pacific Islander Heritage.
“It is eye opening and gives an opportunity for everyone to learn new cultures,” Buck said. “Overall I think it is a good experience for everyone to recognize things from other cultures and can relate with their own culture and or learn from different cultures.”