KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Service members and civilians from Regional Command-South gathered May 28 to recognize Asian-Pacific American Heritage month. Asian-Pacific Americans have contributed to America's society and war time efforts since World War II putting their lives on the line for their family and their country.

The theme of the observance was "Building leadership: Embracing cultural values and inclusion." The guest speaker, Maj. Lawrence Allison, chaplain for 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, a native of Honolulu, talked about his childhood and how it has influenced his values today.

"For me growing up in Hawaii, the history of South Pacific islanders was passed on through story telling or tradition," said Allison.

The program also featured soldier presentations of the Ava, a ukulele performance and the Ole Taualuga dance. The Ava is one of the most important customs of the Samoa Islands involving a solemn ritual where a ceremonial beverage is shared to mark most important occasions in Samoan society.

Allison said part of embracing cultural values was spending Sunday's at his grandmother's house.

"My grandmother would give lessons on respect, honor and the family; and what it means to be family."

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 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. However, it was not until 1992 the official designation on May as APAH month was signed into law.