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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Post celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Members of the Fort Leonard Wood community gathered together Tuesday to celebrate National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.


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  • Members of the Fort Leonard Wood community gathered together Tuesday to celebrate National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
    Master Sgt. Roger Matthews, who helped organize the event as part of the installation’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office, said it was important that members of the military and the community took the time out of their day to learn more about the different cultures and groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
    “As a military, we’re inclusive of a whole plethora of different cultures,” he said. “Every culture has something to bring to the fight.”
    Matthews added that marking observances like National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month helps build a stronger team within the Army and the community.
    “It allows us to work together and not be so separate as far as cultures are concerned,” he said.
    The observance, which was held at the Pershing Community Center, featured a meal, traditional dances of the Pacific Islands from the Our Hula Ohana Dance Group, and a speech from retired Army Chaplain Father Mansueto Calasara Jr., who was born in the Philippines. He retired from the Army in 1996, but was called back to service following the beginning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring a second time.
    He spoke of the many contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, both to the United States and to the military.
    “We are defending our nation, our beloved America,” he said. “We are composed of many nations, but we have only one dream. Unity. So although we are many, we are one.”
    Matthews said he was impressed with the dancing and the guest speaker at the event. He added that he hoped the large audience gained insight and information from the event.
    “I think everything went great,” he said. “I think everybody enjoyed themselves and I think there was a learning factor that I hope will spread.”
    National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is held annually each May. It was originally designated as a one week observance but was expanded into a month-long celebration in 1992.
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