NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Sailors attended an American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month presentation Nov. 22 hosted by the carrier's American Heritage Observance Committee (AHOC).
After a month of planning, the performance filled the mess decks to overflowing.
"I think the participants did an awesome job at presenting the heritages of American Indians and Alaskan Natives," said Lt. Cmdr. H. Reynolds. "Not only did they discuss the [American] Indian heritage and history, but also the role that [Native Americans] played in military history."
There are 23 active members of AHOC, a committee that strives to bring the cultures, histories and heritages to Vinson Sailors. The members put together posters, brochures, and presentations to spread knowledge and awareness of cultural history and diversity throughout the ship.
"Sailors deserve to know about American Indian heritage, and as chairman of AHOC, I can say officially that this is what we strived to achieve," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class (AW) Demetrius Rushin, AHOC co-chairman and Command Equal Opportunity advisor.
For some Sailors, their American Indian and Alaskan Native heritage is a part of not just their bloodline, but their lives, as well.
"I wanted to inform my shipmates of my heritage and culture," Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Keri Childs said. "I am a descendant of the Mattaponi Tribe of Virginia. My great-grandmother belonged to the tribe. Learning about my grandmother's heritage and learning the history of her tribe was very important to me. It was one of the [native tribes] of the United States; its history ultimately became a part of the story of Pocahontas and Jon Smith."
Members of AHOC come from many different races, nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. They gather together and meet once a week to discuss upcoming observances and events.
"Being able to teach others about the significance of my heritage brings me great honor," said Yoeman 3rd Class Jessenia Dawson, AHOC co-chairman. "AHOC not only offers me the opportunity to educate others about the unique qualities of my ancestors, but it also gives people a better understanding of what makes me who I am today."
AHOC has put on two presentations, one for Hispanic Heritage and one for American Indian and Alaskan Native observances. The committee has high hopes that its upcoming events and presentations will enable them and their audience to grow in number.
"My goals for AHOC are to provide for command awareness of the different ethnic origins and to teach others about those differences, which make every culture unique," Dawson said. "I feel that different heritages are what make the United States unique from other countries. This nation began with a dream seen through many different eyes, and I think it's beautiful that we can still celebrate our differences and not be penalized for our beliefs."
Future presentations from AHOC are forthcoming; the next planned observances are Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and African American History Month in February.
Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.