JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center and the Institute for Surgical Research held an event May 24 to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

BAMC Commander Col. Jeffrey Johnson highlighted one prominent Asian American, Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and U.S. Senator.

"Daniel Inouye was truly a life-long hero, serving his country until his death at the age of 88," Johnson said.

"Today we have more than 67,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders serving in the United States military and we are all better for it."

Retired Air Force Col. Nonie Cabana was the guest speaker for the event. Cabana serves as the Deputy Director for Region 7 for the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project and is on the board of directors for the Organization of the Filipinos in Texas.

Cabana highlighted the diverse backgrounds of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and spoke about this year's theme, "Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies."

"I learned early on that if you connect with others, embracing kindness and love, it can make an impactful difference," he said.

"It is imperative that we embrace our commonalities and endure as fellow Americans. Together we can connect and share our life experiences in this society."

The retired colonel talked about his experience participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, New Mexico. He said he marched in part to honor his grandfather-in-law who died during the march in 1942.

"When I was about to give up my fellow marchers encouraged me to the finish line," Cabana said. "When we walk together bonded by the love of the human race we can accomplish anything we set our mind to."

Cabana said the military is a model for embracing diversity.

"We have moved beyond tolerance to genuine acceptance and respect," he said. "No other institution offers individuals the best opportunity to shine other than our military institution."

Continuing to educate people about cultural diversity and military values is paramount, he added.

"Together we can create a vibrant community where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated, that's what America is all about," Cabana said.

Cabana concluded by talking about building legacies, highlighting many prominent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in American history.

Aloha Kitchen also entertained the crowd with some traditional Hawaiian dances.