By Amy ParrMay 30, 2019
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command members gathered May 29 in the Seay Auditorium for an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration as part of the month's theme, "Unite our mission by engaging each other." The event topic, "Pacific Ponderings: A Conversation about the Asian American Pacific Islander Cultural Experience," provided an opportunity for two members of the SDDC workforce to share a little of their family histories.
Mary Taitano, accounting operations division chief, shared the history of her husband's Chamorro family and some of their experiences living in Guam during the Japanese occupation between 1941 and 1944. Taitano said they endured with only what they could carry while making their way through dangerous jungles and down a treacherous cliff, and hid out the majority of their time in a cave.
Taitano said it is important to share these experiences because they shape lives, thoughts, ideas, actions and reactions.
"In order for collaboration, communication and cooperation to be effective, it is important to understand the experiences of others," she said. "Sharing the experiences allows us to learn about each other and other cultures. Plus, while we are in a military community, there are so many people with whom we work who have never lived outside the local area."
Jung Park, a resource management financial analyst, told of his family experiences during the Korean War. His father, only 5 years old at the war's start, migrated on foot back and forth across the Korean peninsula.
"My family history had a direct impact on my life," said Park. "The sacrifices made by my parents and grandparents drove me to live life to the fullest, to never quit, and to strive to always improve."
Park said it is important to learn how history affects people. "Sharing our stories is like breaking bread for the mind and soul," he said. "It brings people together and highlights the fact that we all share the same core values."
Thanking Taitano and Park for sharing their experiences, Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general, said these type of engagements get to the soul of the organization.
"We come to work under a common purpose - to move, deploy and sustain the Armed Forces to deliver readiness and lethality at speed," said Farmen. "Diversity is a strength. We all come from different places.
"We talk about what it means to be a Surface Warrior. Those words - leadership, inclusion, persistence, relationships, effort and dedication- they have meaning," he said.