FORT KNOX, Ky. - As several performers entered the stage, the audience seemed enchanted by the ceremonial garb adorning their bodies. The awe quickly turned to excitement as the performers began shouting and dancing on stage. Soon the entire theater was filled with war cries as performers, strategically placed behind the audience, shouted in unison with their on stage companions. The Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Observance Program was in full swing.
The performance was part of a program hosted by the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), May 15 at Waybur Theater, and celebrated the many accomplishments and sacrifices of Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
Col. Robert Weaver, deputy commander of 3rd ESC, gave the opening remarks at the ceremony and spoke on the importance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
"It's a time to celebrate the incredible diversity in our community and the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to this Nation," said Weaver. "We honor the perseverance of those who courageously reached for their hopes and dreams in a new land. Despite difficulties, these men and women struggled, sacrificed and persevered to build a better life for their children and all Americans."
The guest speaker for the event was Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia T. Vimoto, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg command sergeant major. Vimoto, who is from American Samoa, talked about diversity among Army Soldiers, but noted they all share a common goal.
"These unique cultures are represented in our diverse Army, and stand as a testament to the Army's commitment to promoting equality and inclusion, which is our theme for this year," said Vimoto. "Everywhere you look in our Army everyone is different; different ethnic background, different upbringing and different physical structure or appearance, but we share a common purpose, to fight and win our Nation's Wars."
"History has tried to test our Soldiers through racial and cultural prejudice, but like our enemies it fails," Vimoto continued. "For generations Asian American and Pacific Islanders have dedicated their lives to developing and defending the heritage of our country. Today they are defining our country's future as leaders in business and government, athletics and public service. During this month's celebration, let us honor the sacrifices, successes and resilience of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities."
After Vimoto's speech, the audience enjoyed several presentations highlighting Asian American and Pacific Islanders' heritage. These included a presentation by Lee's Tae Kwon Do Academy, which featuring members performing Tae Kwon Do moves, as well as traditional dances performed by Measina A Samoa Entertainment and Hula Ohana O' Kentucky.
Soledad Tudela, a property book NCO with the 3rd ESC, volunteered to be in the program. Tudela, who hails from Guam, said it is important that Soldiers learn about other cultures.
"I volunteer to show pride in my culture and to teach people about it," said Tudela. "It helps Soldiers to be open minded and learn about a diverse of cultural backgrounds and it helps to understand how people grew up and their value system."
After the program, audience members had an opportunity to try Asian American and Pacific Islander food and beverages which were served by members of the 3rd ESC.
Since the signing of a Joint Resolution by President Jimmy Carter in October 1978, and an extension by President George H.W. Bush, the United States has recognized the month of May as a time to acknowledge the achievements and contributions to the American story by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the cultural traditions, ancestry, native languages, and unique experiences of more than 56 ethnic groups (speaking over 100 languages) from Asia and the Pacific Islands who live in the United States.