Humphreys community celebrates Asian American, Pacific Islander Heritage
June 7, 2013
CAMP HUMPHREYS -- The Camp Humphreys community celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, May 16, in the Community Activity Center. Like most commemorative months, this celebration originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate.
Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, then President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
The observation, hosted by 3-2 General Support Aviation Battalion, featured cultural displays, educational information, entertainment and food. This was followed by a reading to the Presidential Proclamation designating May as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It emphasized the impact that Asian-American and Pacific islanders have on everyday life. The President also discussed the hardships they face and said that his administration remains committed to addressing these problems.
After the proclamation, Soldiers and family members from 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade and 304th Signal Battalion performed traditional Pacific Island dances. Guest speaker for the event was Chap. (Lt. Col.) Samuel Lee, the 2nd Infantry Division command chaplain. From the outset of his speech, Lee said that "this celebration is not promoting any race culture, or traditions over others, but rather it is celebrating the unique culture of the United States to promote harmony and peace."
Lee highlighted Asian-Pacific roles throughout history, including participation as Soldiers in the Civil War, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and a Medal of Honor recipient during the Spanish-American War. Then he introduced his story of serving in the U.S. Army as a Korean-American and how grateful he was to the U.S. for letting him study and giving him a chance to serve as a chaplain. "It has been a great journey ever since I became a chaplain and I thank God for granting me this oppertunity to serve others in the military."