CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade hosted a celebration of the cultures and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders both past and present in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 23.
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have always strived to maintain their unique and individual cultures, while remaining an integral facet of American society. “Places like Samoa are so small, but we have big hearts.” said U.S Army Staff Sgt. Rachel Phillips, logistics non-commissioned officer, Eighth Army. “I appreciate events like these, because they show our culture to people who would never see it otherwise.”
The ceremony consisted of traditional dances, a taekwondo performance and culturally significant foods.
“The food and the dances are great ways to showcase our culture,” said Phillips. “It helps bring light on the diverse backgrounds that so many of our service members come from.”
Highlighting the cultural aspects of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was not the only purpose of the ceremony. The event also sought to recognize their accomplishments and sacrifices throughout military history. Two units which exemplified these qualities were the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion; both units were chiefly composed of Asian Americans.
“Individual Soldiers from both units earned 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 15 Soldier’s medals and 9,500 Purple Hearts,” said Col. Chul Kim, chaplain, Eighth Army. “On a more somber note, 650 men from those two units were killed during World War II, 3,700 were wounded in action and 67 were declared missing in action.”
Passing down the ancient histories and traditions are ways that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders fight to maintain their culture. Even though they have blended into America’s cultural melting pot, they continue to pass on a rich and diverse culture that is more than a thousand of years old.
“Let us pass on a legacy to our children that is far more refined in equality and far less in partiality,” said Kim. “It’s time to unite our missions by engaging one another to leave a much firmer foundation with future generations to come.”
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