USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in the ship's hangar bay May 18.
Celebrated across the nation during May, Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S.
Enterprise's Multicultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) was responsible for planning and hosting the observance as the aircraft carrier continues its 22nd and final deployment. The observance focuses on this year's theme: "Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity, and Inclusion."
"This celebration is about bringing together all the different ethnicities of Asian countries and to represent their cultures," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class John Julian, a member of Enterprise's Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee.
The show included dances, songs, informational speech, a poetry reading and a "Haka," from Samoa, an island nation in the South Pacific.
"A Haka is basically a war chant," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Lorraine Marie C. Secord, a member of Enterprise's Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee. "The chant was created as a way to intimidate enemies."
The dance portion of the show included Hula, an interpretive dance style from the South Pacific.
"There is a lot of diversity in the Asian and Pacific Island countries," said Julian. "Of course, you have the big countries that everyone knows like China and Japan but you also have smaller countries, like Thailand, and a lot of islands that many people have never even heard about."
Lt. j.g. Hosannah R. Quino, the master of ceremonies for the event, said the observance is a celebration for everyone and that it can serve as a great learning experience for the entire crew.
"When I first joined the U.S. Navy I wasn't sure how diverse it really was," said Quino. "When you start seeing events like this, it makes you feel like the Navy, and America as a whole, is embracing you and your culture. It gives you that sense of home. I'm very excited about this, seeing the dances and hearing the songs and poems. I like trying different foods and learning about different cultures. It's kind of magical."
"It's nice to know peoples' backgrounds and origins," said Secord. "It's just interesting and our military is so diverse."
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month was first introduced in 1977, when U.S. Reps. Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta introduced a resolution that called upon the President to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week.
A year later, in 1978, then-President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating its annual celebration.
May was chosen for the AAPI Heritage observance to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad May 10, 1869. Much of the work on this railroad was completed by Chinese immigrants.
In 1990, then-President George H. W. Bush signed an extension, making the weeklong celebration into a month-long celebration.
Enterprise is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and Operation Enduring Freedom missions.
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