KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
The 7th Mission Support Command and U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Thursday with dancing, food and fellowship.
The event, which took place on Daenner Kaserne at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center, featured musical and dance acts, as well as a variety of foods from around the Pacific.
The featured speaker was Col. Alex Wells, the 7th MSC deputy commanding officer, who was born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.
After spending some time on active duty in the Pacific, Wells transitioned to the Reserve component, where he got to serve in the only infantry unit in the Army Reserve – the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry.
“The 100th derived its rich legacy during World War II as the first Japanese-American fighting unit,” Wells told the crowd. “They were Japanese Americans who swore allegiance to serve our nation despite facing racial discrimination, hatred, violence, bigotry and even internment.”
He commanded Charlie Co., 100th Battalion in American Samoa.
“They intermingled their rich culture with the Army Values that we hold so dear,” Wells said. “I still hold this assignment as one of the proudest moments of my military service.”
Wells has interacted with many Asian Americans in his assignments.
“Each time, I am left with the feeling of pride and honor,” he said. “Of not just being of similar heritage but sharing that bond of serving a great nation. I found this feeling goes beyond the diverse backgrounds we all come from. It is what binds us all from all walks of life when we choose to serve and defend our country.”
Before Wells’ remarks, the attendees were treated to performances from the Kaiserslautern High School Dancers and dance groups called “Hula with Aloha,” and “Friendship of the Islands.”
Also, Imoni Prince sang a song called “Sakura Sakura,” and Spc. Paul Tizon played the guitar and sang a Fillipino song.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated in May in recognition of the contributions made by people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States.
The Army honors Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent for their military and civilian service within the department. These individuals have served in America's Army from the Civil War to current operations all around the world.
The "Asian-American and Pacific Islander" designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic or language groups, including native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. There are now more recognized Asian and Pacific Islander groups than in the past, with 28 Asian and 19 Pacific Islander subgroups representing a vast array of languages and cultures.
The observance began when Congress passed a joint congressional resolution in 1978 to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Week during the first week of May. This date was chosen because two important anniversaries occurred during this time — the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad.