USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) held a Caribbean Island Heritage Celebration in the ship's hangar bay July 29.
Enterprise's Multicultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) was responsible for planning and hosting the observance aboard the Big E as the carrier continued its final deployment.
The ceremony focused on this year's Caribbean Island Heritage Month theme: "Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion."
The ceremony's intent was to educate crew members about the culture of the Caribbean islands.
"The military is not only populated by Americans," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Judith L. Wesley, the MCHC coordinator aboard Big E. "There is a large diversity of people from different countries who joined the Navy to help defend our nation."
The ceremony included a brief history of the Caribbean, a poem by Machinist's Mate 1st Class Carlos Jimenez and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gregory White and cultural dance performances. The event featured Lt. Winston Cotterell as a guest speaker.
The ceremony also included an invocation by Lt. Cmdr. Henry F. Holcombe as well as remarks by Rear Adm. Ted Carter, commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group.
"You don't have to look very far to see the wonderful things that have come from the Caribbean culture," said Carter. "Who hasn't heard of Bob Marley, or that wonderful island sound, Reggae? The exotic fruits and spices have swept the globe and are recognizable no matter where you are."
One of the many focuses of the celebration was to educate the crew about how the Caribbean islands have been a cauldron of cultures since European explorers arrived on the North American continent. Caribbean people have been forced to embrace the changes and obstacles that have defined their culture.
The goal of the ceremony was to not only celebrate the flavorful culture of the Caribbean region, but also to celebrate the vast diversity of the ship's crew.
"We should celebrate moments like this to educate others so that they can understand why some people react in certain ways," said Wesley. "It also helps people understand why others eat certain foods, listen to certain music, and even practice certain religions."
During the celebration Big E's crew united to observe one of the many cultures that make up the nation they are sworn to protect.
"This was a great opportunity for the crew members to remove certain stereotypes," said Wesley. "It was also a great opportunity for cultures to come together and exchange music, knowledge, education and unity."
Caribbean Island Heritage Month is celebrated in July across the nation and is a time to recognize Caribbean islanders living in the U.S.
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