Asian Pacific observance offers historic, cultural lessons
June 10, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Aberdeen Proving Ground Soldiers and civilians celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month during a ceremony at the Myer Auditorium in APG North (Aberdeen), May 29.
The event's guest speaker Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Edward Chow, Jr. shared information about Asian American history and his role in preserving its legacy.
"I find that many Asian Pacific Americans, and other Americans for that matter, regardless of generations in this country, have limited knowledge of the contributions Asian Americans have made in the defense of this country," he said, before discussing contributions to the U.S. military and the diversity of American armed forces.
"Some people say our country is a melting pot; I submit to you the idea that America is more like all of us [are] part of a salad..." he said. "That each ethnic group that has come to this country and given to this country, [is like] each item in a salad … to make that salad more distinctive and more beautiful … our ethnic groups have combined and made our country more viable, more diverse and obviously, stronger."
Chow added that May 2014 also marked 145 years since completion of the transcontinental railroad by Chinese laborers. The laborers were inducted into the U.S. Department of Labor Hall of Honor for their work, he said.
Chow is a Life Member of AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans. He served in Germany and Vietnam.
Entertainment included a weapons demonstration by Howard High and the Jinmukai of Maryland and a zither and dance performance by Ashley Xu, a Dunloggin Middle School student from Ellicott City, Md.
The event included displays of artifacts from Asian Pacific countries such as Guam, the Philippines, India, Korea, China and Vietnam. Lee Hunan's Chinese Restaurant and other contributors provided a food tasting after the ceremony. The APG Chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) hosted the event.
"I thought it was very nice," said Lillie Volckmann, whose husband is of Asian descent, "I really enjoyed it, especially the lady playing music. My favorite part was the music and the dancing. It sounded so beautiful and so graceful."
Ceremony performer Ashley Xu, who is of Chinese descent, said that though she was nervous about performing, participating in an event that celebrated Asian heritage was an honor.
"I thought it was really honorable to have been asked to perform," she said. "It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it."