FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – In recognition of May being Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are highlighting some of our U.S. Army Garrison employees who bring diversity to our workforce.
Today we spotlight Anna Petersen, a garrison budget analyst, who works in the Directorate of Resource Management.
You could call Petersen a rule breaker, or someone not afraid to buck tradition, but Petersen just thinks of herself as brave and independent.
Raised in Indonesia, she belonged to a very traditional Christian family. She was taught that she was not allowed to marry a foreigner, and as the second daughter, tradition also stated she would not be allowed to marry until her older sister had first done so.
However, when she was younger, Petersen had a dream in which she was speaking fluent English, and she said somehow, she just knew she would end up leaving Jakarta, and living in another country.
So, when she met an American, and fell in love, she didn’t let rules, tradition or the fact that her sister was not yet married, stand in her way. She got married and moved, first to Germany and later to Arizona. That was 25 years ago.
Looking through her wedding album, she reminisced about her family and the traditions of her country. “I had a large family” she said, “and also, I think the whole town came to the wedding!”
She explained that a wedding in Jakarta is an all-day affair, with lots of people, food and tradition. The wedding starts in the family home, then moves to a government office, then to a church, and then on to a palatial wedding reception. The wedding couple is gifted money, bags of rice and handmade shawls for luck and prosperity.
Petersen said she loves looking through the old photos and sharing them with others. She believes that the sharing of cultures is what makes Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month so important.
“It’s a good thing to remember where we come from. To show our culture and our country,” she said. “The U.S is made of people from every different country, and it is good to show all our cultures. It is inspiring. For instance, people can look at [my] pictures and see ‘Oh wow, Indonesia is so pretty, and maybe I should go visit there.’ That is how I felt, looking at pictures of America, and that is how I ended up coming here!”
Petersen explained that when she and her husband first moved to Arizona, she was a stay-at-home mom. Eventually, she began working with MWR.
“I worked there for two years, and then I started at Armed Forces Bank where I worked there for 16 years,” she said. “And now this is my third year working for this office.
“It seems crazy,” she said. “I’ve lived [in the U.S] longer than I lived in Jakarta. But now my roots are here. I have two girls, and both are in university. My kids are here and my job. I have more roots here than in my own country.
“I feel so blessed to be here though,” Petersen said. “No one else in my family has ever left Indonesia. God has given me so much strength. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am very proud of my journey.”
# # #
Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/.