NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Multi-Cultural Committee held an Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month presentation on the aft mess decks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), May 30.
Sailors filled the seats on the Ike's aft mess decks to participate in the event, uniting to share in the celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander customs and ancestry.
"The point is to get exposure to the heritage and culture of the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities," said Capt. Paul Spedero Jr., Ike's commanding officer. "Most importantly, however, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have made while serving our country."
The presentation also celebrated the achievements of prominent Asian-American and Pacific Islander figures. Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, Jr. is the highest ranking Asian-American in the U.S. Navy and Florence Smith Finch was the first U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve member to receive the Asian-Pacific Campaign ribbon.
"This month is about celebrating the integral role of many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders who helped shape this nation," said Chief Information Systems Technician Angel Osouna, master-of-ceremonies for the event. "While many Asian-American and Pacific Island communities have roots that span the globe, many of their success stories are truly American."
In 1992, May was designated Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions made to American history by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders from more than 56 ethnic groups.
Through many generations, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have established themselves in America's story, contributing their service and loyalty to our nation despite difficult beginnings.
"The Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have distinguished themselves in America's community," said Lt. Cmdr. Tzu Chen, guest speaker for the presentation, "I am blessed for the opportunity to be a part of the United States Navy and to be a part of this celebration."
The Navy is a diverse community comprised of a variety of ancestries and backgrounds. These type of celebrations highlight the vast tapestry of cultures and backgrounds, and help boost morale and unity throughout the ship.
"Events like this are important because it spreads culture and heritage," said Fireman Destiny Oliveros. "It's about connecting people and bringing them together."
Additionally, Oliveros said that the presentation inspired acceptance in the workplace.
"When the Navy holds ceremonies like this, it makes me feel more comfortable in working with everyone," Oliveros said. "It makes me feel accepted, like people really want to learn more about me."
The celebration consisted of several presentations, including a demonstration of a traditional Asian greeting - the bow. This is one of many ways performers educated the audience.
"It is about diversity and fun," said Spedero. "However, it's mostly about recognizing the sacrifices made."
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is pier side during the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).
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For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.