MEDDAC hosted an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month luncheon May 8 at Fort Jackson's NCO Club to celebrate the contributions of these Americans to the cultural landscape.

"American culture is filled with Asian cultural legacies," said Capt. Phung Phan, who led the afternoon's activities.

Japanese horticultural techniques continue to influence American diets, while pan-Asian cultural aspects from Buddism to martial arts to yoga are established parts of our shared landscape.

"Asian and Pacific Islander Americans' heritage is an essential part of the American fabric," he said. The theme of this year's observance, "Unite Our Vision by Working Together," is designed to celebrate ancestry, cultural traditions and unique experiences.

"This observance gives us an opportunity to honor, recognize and celebrate the rich diversity, leadership and enduring empowerment of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," Phan said, "and their dedicated service and contributions to the betterment of our nations."

The guest speaker for the day was Lt. Col. Marie Slack, chief of the Senior Leader Training Division and Advanced Officer Training Division, and a native of Hawaii.

"The U.S. Army is the poster child of equal opportunity," Slack told the audience. While individual people can be flawed and sometimes wear "blinders," she said the Army has otherwise provided opportunity for her Family that nobody else could.

And Fort Jackson is in a unique position when it comes to dealing with cultural "blinders," she said.
"We're at the biggest training installation in the nation," Slack said. "Some people may have blinders on, but we can train them ... we can get them to see the big picture."