PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors, Marines and their respective family members, or “tiger cruise” participants celebrated Asian-Pacific Heritage Month with history lessons, music and performances during a ceremony in the hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), May 10.
The ceremony included the history of Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, a cake cutting, “Travel around the Pacific” static display and featured remarks by Capt. John D. Deehr, Peleliu’s commanding officer and guest speaker Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Hernando Pacuan.
“It is really an honor to be chosen as a guest speaker and to be able to speak to the group of Sailors, Marines and their tigers about the races that are represented during Asian-Pacific month,” said Pacuan, a native of Manila, Philippines. “America is a melting pot for many different cultures and races and it is an honor to be acknowledged.”
The celebration was held for Sailors, Marines and their tigers to educate and honor those Asian-Pacific American cultures that have contributed to U.S. and the Navy.
“It’s an honor to be part of a celebration to commemorate not only who we are but what we’ve done and how we’ve contributed our skills both military and personally and to have a month dedicated not on a specific race or ethnicity but the culture in general gives me pride because I’m always learning something about my culture,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class George Jefferson Busto, Peleliu’s Diversity Team vice president.
Other events included various cultural dances such as “Tininkling” and “Rom Vong”, a Filipino martial arts demonstration called “Eskrima”, and a performance of the song “Lemonade,” each taken from various Asian-Pacific countries.
Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated from a congressional bill presented by New York House of Representative Frank Horton and California House of Representative Norman Y. Mineta in June 1977, proposing the first ten-days of May honor Asian- Pacific Americans. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill in to law on October 5, 1978 designating the annual celebration. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the changed the celebration from a week long to the entire month of May.
“You see [Asian-Pacific Americans] and get a feeling of where they have been and what they have been through,” Pacuan said. “It’s important to educate our Sailors, especially the younger generations coming in now, on the different cultures that do make up America and the Navy and that we aren’t all different colors, we are one color and that color is blue.”
The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, consisting of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked throughout, is returning from an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.