George Washington Celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

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George Washington Celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

by: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas, USS George Washington Public Affairs | .
U.S. Navy | .
published: May 23, 2015

WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) celebrated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month during a ceremony on the ship's aft mess decks, May 21.

George Washington's crew celebrated the cultural traditions, ancestry, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, which includes immigrants from all countries in the Asian continent, Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and native Hawaiians.

According to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and the Library of Congress, the official designation of May as the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 "was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 [where a] majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants."

"It's wonderful that we're here to celebrate Asian-Pacific Islander month," said Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, George Washington's commanding officer. "It's particularly substantial because we're forward deployed to this part of the world, so we can really appreciate the contributions because we've met and have become friends with so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders just during our patrol."

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tagaloa, event keynote speaker, encouraged all Sailors to reach out and learn about Sailors around the ship because everyone, no matter where they are from, has a story that contributes to the culture in our nation and the U.S. Navy.

"The Asian-Pacific Islander heritage itself encompasses so many islands and cultures," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Charmain Mokiao, heritage event hula dance choreographer. "This event shows that even though we are separated by water, distance or land, we can come together as a strong unified front and as one people who have something in common."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (Handling) Jessica Santos, heritage event master of ceremonies, introduced the phrase "many cultures, one voice", which promotes equality and inclusion and celebrates the aspirations of the American spirit captured by Asian-Pacific Islanders.

"As a grandson of immigrants myself, I often spend time reflecting on these events and recognize aspects of our society," said Kuehhas. "I think about why America, more than any other country, aids other countries in crisis. I think it is because America has a piece of every country as American citizens living in the United States. When other countries are hurting, we hurt too. That's why we send people, our forces and our great Navy to help countries in distress."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.

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