BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Hundreds of Servicemembers and Coalition forces celebrated Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with traditional food, music and entertainment, May 27, at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation shelter on BAF.
Each year’s event incorporates a different theme, and this year’s Department of Defense theme is “Leadership to meet the challenges of a changing world.”
The event featured a variety of performances by Asian/Pacific American Servicemembers, who were proud to take part in the celebration.
“It’s a privilege to support this program and I’m grateful this is something the Army provides,” said Staff Sgt. Poima Pulea, the senior Human Resources non-commissioned officer with the 45th Sustainment Brigade, and a lead performer.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was created to recognize the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans in the U.S. military.
President Jimmy Carter chose to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese citizens to the U.S. by signing a joint resolution on Oct. 5, 1978. Years later President George H. W. Bush expanded the holiday to a full month in May 1990.
A few people at the event saw a larger message within the festivities. Asian Americans make many contributions in several aspects of American life, including the arts, science, military, education, sports, business, and government.
“America is the melting pot of the world,” said Master Sgt. Stan Cox, acting 1st Sgt. with the 368th Financial Management Company. “It’s important that everyone celebrates their heritage.”
As the ceremony wound down and the performances came to an end, Lt. Col. Stephen Miliano, the Combined Joint Task Force-101 Equal Opportunity Commander, added a few words about the event.
“Programs like this event help highlight the diversity in our armed forces,” said Miliano. “Tonight we’ve come full circle and seen one of our greatest strengths.”
According to the Department of Defense website, “During Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, commanders are encouraged to take time to celebrate the dedicated service and contributions of Asian Pacific Americans, both past and present, our country and corps.”