(FORT DETRICK, Maryland) Military leaders gathered to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month with a cultural celebration May 22.
Organized by the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, the celebration focused on distinguishing not only the unique contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, but also recognizing the shared values that bring all cultures together. The theme for this year's event was, "Unite our Mission by Engaging Each Other."
"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders contribute to America's diverse, rich and colorful tapestry. As we commemorate Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, it is important to celebrate not only the strength of our diversity, but also the unity of our vision," U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick Commanding General Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb said in her opening remarks. "We all embrace the same Army values and we all serve the same great nation."
Senator Chris Van Hollen's Outreach Representative Naki Frierson also attended the celebration, which included a cultural dance performance by Hoku's Hawaiian Entertainment.
Col. Lynn Marm, the current Director of Logistics at the Office of the Army Surgeon General and former USAMMA Commander, served as the event's keynote speaker. She shared memories of her early childhood in South Vietnam, as the daughter of a U.S. Army intelligence officer who brought the family to the United States in 1975.
Grateful for her father's efforts, Marm said her mother is also the hero of her story. Embracing her new life in the U.S., her mother learned English at night school, earned her citizenship in 1979, and eventually joined federal service -- as a logistician. Throughout these life transitions, Marm said her mother carefully balanced her love and pride for her heritage with her gratitude and loyalty to her new homeland.
"My mother always taught us to value each individual on the basis of their contributions. She taught us to be proud of our heritage, underpinned by a sense of service and gratitude for the lives we were given," Marm said. "That has made me want to do my best every day."
Marm commissioned into Army through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1994. Her brother also served in the military. She said that even though the military does require uniformity, she feels it also embraces diversity as a strength.
"We have built an organization that reflects our great nation," said Marm. "Embracing our diversity is essential not only for today's success, but also for the success of our future."