FORT BENNING, Ga. - The annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Benning Conference Center. The theme for the luncheon is "Diverse Leadership for a Diverse Work Force."

"Today, every job whether it be military or civilian, is made up of many different types of people, many different attitudes, nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, and the leadership needs to understand that," said SFC Glen Tilson, NCOIC for the luncheon. "They need to understand there are differences in people's heritages, there are differences in the way people were brought up, and they need to be able to adapt to that."

Entertainment for the luncheon will include Chinese music sung by Faith Middle School students and traditional dances, including the Samoan Fire Dance, belly dancing and the hula, by the Columbus-based Samoan Youth Group.

The guest speaker will be Jason Robertson. Once an orphan airlifted out of Saigon during the Vietnam War, Robertson will share his story, which eventually brought him to a home and loving adoptive family in Salem, Ala.

Guests at the luncheon can also learn about Asian-Pacific Americans' contributions from World War II to today through storyboards created by the 197th Infantry Brigade.

There's a lot people don't know about Asian-Pacific heritage, said 1SG(R) Harold Lusano, who works with the 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment. Lusano has attended every Asian-Pacific heritage luncheon since the observances were first celebrated on Fort Benning.

"The culture is so great," he said. "We're talking about Japanese, Filipino, Samoan, Indian, Chinese, Hawaiian ... It's interesting. It's a melting pot."

With such a diverse group of people, the culture is rich with varied food, language and art, said Lusano, who is of Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino descent.

"A lot of folks today ... don't take the time to understand or know what the Asian-Pacific Islanders did ... what they have contributed to the United States. You've got scientists, senators, Medal of Honor winners; I could go on and on," he said. I think the most important thing is to educate the public (on) all different cultures and nationalities that pertain to the Asian-Pacific. I think it's important the young Soldier today understand that."

Tickets are $8.50. The menu includes teriyaki chicken, egg rolls, fried rice and salad. Reserve your spot today by calling 706-545-3196, 706-545-3197 or 706-545-6665.