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Performers from the South Georgia Okinawa Club entertain the crowd with a series of dances during the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Lunch and Learn at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, May 21. The ceremony, hosted by Marine Corps Logistics Command and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany officials, was held at MCLB Albany’s Town and Country Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom.

Photo by Verda L. Parker

Installation personnel pause to honor Asian, Pacific Islander heritage

22 May 2015 | Verda L. Parker Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Marine Corps Logistics Command and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany officials hosted a Lunch and Learn in recognition of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, May 21.

Kimonos and Asian-Pacific centerpieces and artifacts donned the walls and tables at MCLB Albany’s Town and Country Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom as guests poured into the luncheon for the event.

Emphasizing the theme, “Many Cultures, One Voice Promote Equality and Inclusion,” guests were welcomed, treated to ethnic foods, learned more about the culture and rich heritage and were entertained with music and several dance performances featuring the South Georgia Okinawa Club dancers.

Kent Morrison, executive director, MCLB Albany, spoke about the occasion and educated attendees with the history and origin of the legislation, which was first introduced by Congress to commemorate the days.

“This month we join together to celebrate the culture, the traditions and the history of the Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States,” Morrison said. “A rather broad term, Asian Pacific encompasses the Asian continent and (all of) the island chains of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

“Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill in June 1977. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers on the transcontinental railroad were Chinese immigrants.”

Vilma Henson, management and program assistant, Communications and Information Systems Division, MCLB Albany, a native of San Fernando, Pampanga Philippines, recalled periods of her childhood, discussed her favorite native foods and expressed her gratitude to the country for celebrating her heritage.

“Growing up in the Philippines, my mother would cook food for us and for other people when we celebrated the month,” Henson said. “My favorite foods are pancit (rice noodles) and lumpia (egg rolls).

“I remember during the war, the Americans helped the Philippines with the Japanese,” she recalled. “We appreciate what America did to defend and liberate us from Japan. It really means a lot to me that the United States commemorates our heritage through celebrations. It’s very good for the relationship between the Philippines and the U.S.”

Continuing the commemorative tradition, President Barack Obama signed the 2015 Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Presidential Proclamation.

An excerpt from President Obama’s proclamation reads: “As we commemorate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we pay tribute to all those in the AAPI community who have striven for a brighter future for the next generation. Together, let us recommit to embracing the diversity that enriches our Nation and to ensuring all our people have an equal chance to succeed in the country we love.”

The proclamation can be read in its entirety at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/30/presidential-proclamation-asian-...5/20/2015.