USS Kearsarge Celebrates Diversity, Inclusion within Asian-Pacific Heritage Month
Sailors aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) held an Asian-Pacific Heritage Month observance on the Mess Decks May 20.
The observance recognized the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to the United States and to the Navy.
The theme this year is “Striving for excellence in leadership, diversity and inclusion.”
Sailors recited poems, songs and shared some personal stories about their Asian-Pacific heritage.
One of the guest speakers, Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Lilia Blair expressed the challenges of being not only Asian but also female in the Navy.
“Growing up was hard due to the fact that I was an Asian-Pacific female,” said Blair. “The thing that kept me going was that I wanted to pursue the dream of following in my father’s footsteps.” Blair’s father retired from the Navy as a master chief in the Navy after serving 30 years.
Ensign Crystal Gonzalez shared some stories of her childhood. “I would get picked on by other kids because of the way my hair and eyes looked,” Gonzalez said. She emphasized that every Sailor should embrace their diversity. “I want every Sailor to be proud of who [they] are…,” she said.
Capt. Dorian F. Jones, commanding officer of Kearsarge, concluded the ceremony by sharing examples of how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders impact the Navy today.
“Asians and Pacific Islanders have served in the military since World War I. Their patriotism runs deep among the culture,” Jones said.
According to the Defense Department’s Equal Opportunity Office, there are currently more than 284,000 Asian and Pacific Islander military veterans. In the Navy alone, there are more than 20,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders that make up the total naval force. Included are nine admirals and 191 master chief petty officers.
“The ideas and the diversity of thoughts of our people have always strengthened our nation and our Navy. Diversity keeps us strong and empowers our ability to defend freedoms not only here on the homefront, but all over the world,” Jones said. “Diversity allows us to do this without prejudice of ethnicity or cultural background and that is why we remain the most powerful fighting force in the world.”
Naval Today Staff , May 23, 2012