Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — It is common knowledge the Army is made up of a diverse fighting force – different nationalities, genders and religious backgrounds.
To honor the Army’s diversity, Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) from Fort Drum, N.Y., celebrated Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month Saturday during a ceremony on Camp Striker, Iraq.
“May is Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States,” said Staff Sgt. Jerry Moses, the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT equal opportunity representative. “In 1992, President George H.W. Bush designated May to be Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And tonight we are commemorating how the Asian-Pacific Islanders have helped create what our country is today.”
To kick off the celebration, Chaplain (Capt.) Daniel Kang, of 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT and native of Seoul, Korea, gave some insight of how different Soldiers’ background blend together to create a unique organization.
“You can kind of refer the different Soldiers’ backgrounds to a bowl of salad,” Kang explained. “You have many different ingredients that make a salad. And same goes with the Army – there are many different backgrounds to create a great organization.”
After Kang gave his speech, Soldiers watched Generation X, an Asian-Pacific Islander music group who sang about the Civil War in the Philippines.
“They sounded great,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Drayton, the 2nd BCT equal opportunity advisor.
Soldiers took a minute to share their thoughts during the observance.
“My wife is a Pacific-Islander and it was nice to see this observance commemorating them (the Pacific-Islanders),” said Sgt. Steven Pitts, a 210th BSB operations sergeant.
And to further give others an understanding of the Asian-Pacific Islander culture a Soldier from Saipan performed the Fire Dance, an ancient warrior tradition in Saipan.
“At home this dance was a warrior dance for people to get ready for battle,” said Pfc. A.J. Mettao, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT aviation operations specialist. “The warriors would fire dance with paint on their face and get everyone motivated.”
Mettao’s rendition of the Fire Dance gathered a large crowd who watched every move and twirl made with the stick of fire.
Mettao commented about why he chose to perform the dance.
“I just, pretty much, wanted to represent all of the people back home – all of the islanders that can’t be out here,” he said. “I just want to let them know that even though I am in the Army I still have their back – I am still rooting for them.”
The ceremony ended with smiles and Soldiers’ better understanding of the Asian-Pacific Islander culture.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Pitts added. “It (the show) was amazing.”
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie