by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
5/16/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — Servicemembers from across the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with various events spread throughout the month of May.
“This is very important as it affords us a moment to step back and appreciate the sacrifices everyone has made, regardless of skin color or background,” said Master Sgt. Clarissa Piedra, the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management office customer support section chief and AAPI Heritage Month lead project manager.
AAPIs are servicemembers from more than 30 countries and ethnic groups who speak more than 100 different languages. Military members across the globe focus on building leadership by embracing cultural values this month.
“You never know what a person’s background is until you ask them and really start to get to know them,” Piedra said. “That’s really something we’re focusing on this month.”
The nearly 16-year veteran comes from a “multi-racial and multi-cultural family” and said this is an important part of the woman she is today.
“I don’t know where I’d be without my family,” she said. “We’d have huge family get-togethers at our house and everyone would bring something relative to their heritage.”
Much like the rest of America, Piedra’s family comes from many walks of life.
“My family is a big melting pot of members from every culture out there, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world — love every single one of them,” she said.
Each May, the United States comes together to recount the ways AAPIs helped forge the country, beginning with a proclamation signed by the president.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad achievements embody the American experience,” said President Barack Obama. “This year, we recognize the 25th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act’s repeal — milestones that helped mend deep wounds of systemic discrimination.”
The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.
“It’s truly humbling to have worked with the people who came together to make the events we’ve had this month a reality,” Piedra said. “We faced the deployed environment challenges head on, really came together as a group, regardless of ethnic background or descent, and made this one heritage month people won’t soon forget.”
For more information on how to get involved, volunteer or enjoy the myriad of different events and opportunities made available here, call Staff Sgt. Cory Williams at 437-2863.