SUFFOLK, Va. – Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Joint Staff – Hampton Roads (JS-HR), Naval Network Warfare Command (NNWC), U.S. Fleet Cyber Command (FCC) South and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a ceremony, May 23.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes the challenges faced by Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians and their vital contributions to the American story.
Vice Adm. Brian B. Brown, commander, NAVIFOR, opened the observance ceremony with brief remarks before introducing the guest speaker.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been engaged in our communities, in the operation of our Navy and in our nation for many years in spite of institutional barriers,” said Brown to a crowd of attendees wearing Hawaiian lies. “They enrich us with a diverse culture that spans half the globe, from the Ural Mountains in Russia to the western coasts of the Americas.
Manolita Akiko Holadia, a civil litigator attorney in Virginia Beach for 25 years and an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University, served as the guest speaker for the event held in the Hall of Heroes auditorium in Suffolk.
“It is just a simple thing to say that you feel good. It doesn’t matter what color, sex, age or economic circumstance, you just want to feel good. Let’s take this from something fun to something serious,” said Holadia. “My mom, who was born in Nagasaki, Japan, felt great as a kid. Was a happy child and proud of her heritage because they were warriors, they had ninjas and samurais. She was very proud and had a lot of honor. Then on August 8, 1945, she told me she loves America because we did something as a country for Japan that Japan did not do for us. The day before August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped leaflets. My mom was told by Japanese soldiers that it was American lies and not to believe it. The leaflets said that the city will be destroyed and mom with her family went into tunnels that they dug up. When they came out a few days later, there was nothing left. Devastation everywhere. You would think after that, she would hate this country but she was given free medical treatment in America due to radiation poisoning. She loved this flag and America. You think that when she came here after the war, she was welcomed with open arms. Nope, and she was grateful, despite all of it, that she was alive. She was the easiest person to buy a present for."
In closing, Holadia said, “A lot of wars are started because of the color of our skins; however, underneath it all, we are all the same. How hard is it to find something in common rather than to find something that we are all different?”
The event concluded with a dance video of a traditional Haka dance, followed by a formal cake cutting with Brown and Holadia and a food sampling.
On May 7, 1990, President George H. W. Bush issued a proclamation designating May 1990 as the first Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, changing the observance from a week to a month.
The theme for this year is “Unite Our Vision by Engaging Each Other.” Immigrants from Asia and native people of the Pacific Islands helped to shape the history of the United States. Today, they continue to retain their diverse cultural heritages that stretch across the globe.
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, there are 25,000 Asian American Pacific Islander Sailors serving in the Navy today, including seven admirals and 235 master chief and senior chief petty officers. These Sailors represent more than 56 ethnic groups, speaking more than 100 languages from Asia and the Pacific Islands, living in the United States.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers us an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions Asian American Pacific Islanders have made to our nation, reflect on the challenges still faced by Asian American Pacific Islander communities, and recommit to making the “American Dream” a reality for everyone. Asian American Pacific Islander’s comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad achievements embody the American experience.
Many Asian American Pacific Islander communities continue to fight prejudice and struggle to overcome disparities in education, employment, housing, and health care.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to generate, directly and through our leadership of the Information Warfare (IW) Enterprise, agile and technically superior manned, trained, equipped, and certified combat ready IW forces to ensure our Navy will decisively DETER, COMPETE , and WIN.
For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, Navy News webpage at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.