Community gets glimpse of Asian-Pacific American culture
June 2, 2011
Fort Drum Soldiers, Family Members, civilians and community members came together to learn about and experience Asian-Pacific American culture May 25 at the Commons.
Members of the Watertown Korean Presbyterian Church Choir kicked off the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month observance by performing two hymns for attendees.
Next, guest speaker Maj. Christine V. Enriquez, 10th Sustainment Brigade S1 and first-generation Filipino-American, focused on the event's theme "Diversity, leadership, Empowerment and Beyond," by sharing her experiences as a military child and Army officer.
Enriquez, whose childhood revolved around her Filipino father's Navy career, spoke about keeping old heritage but also embracing new heritage.
"Throughout our early lives, my parents grappled with raising their children in American society while trying to instill traditional Asian values in us, such as a deep respect for elders and persons of authority, placing family first, a good work ethic and the importance of a good education," she said. "They also taught me to embrace my Filipino heritage, but understood that since we were born and raised in America, we were both Filipino and American."
Enriquez noted that Asian-Pacific Americans have "always been an important part of the nation’s military," serving in the armed forces since World War I.
About 112,000 Asian-Americans currently serve in the military, and more than 284,000 Asian and Pacific Americans are veterans, according to the Defense Department's Equal Opportunity Office.
"As some of you may know, we choose to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage during the month of May, because this particular month marks significant achievements in the cross-cultural unification of our society," Enriquez noted.
She concluded her speech by telling the audience, "as we celebrate the diverse cultures in the Army through events like Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, we are reminded that we live in a diverse nation, but it is also a united one. The United States Army embraces differences and believes that all membersare equal, and deserving of liberty and freedom."
Attendees were then invited to watch various Polynesian dances " including the Haka, a traditional Polynesian dance " performed by Fort Drum Soldiers and Family Members.
Then members of the Hardman Family were given a special treat when they were called on stage and the dancers taught the four Family Members a Polynesian dance.
The event concluded with a traditional Asian-American meal.