Buckley Warms Up to Summer With an Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Observance
By Mrs. Janet Watkins, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 01, 2011
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo- -- "From our earliest days, intrepid men and women from the Asia Pacific region have forged enduring links between America and other nations as they moved across the Pacific. In today's globalized world, these bonds remain critical, reminding the United States of our rich shared history and integrated future with the dynamic Asia Pacific region. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let us celebrate the millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whose talents and contributions strengthen our economy, protect our security, and enliven our country every day." President Barack Obama, proclaiming May 2011 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month...
Lead by the 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Team Buckley gathered at the Leadership Development Center on May 25, to do just as the President requested; celebrate cultural contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Sergeant First Class David McAndrews, Equal Opportunity Advisory for the 743rd, was the mastermind behind an event that appealed to all the senses.
The Halau Kalama and Polynesian Party Planners dancers provided the entertainment, quick-changing costumes as they represented different dance styles from islands as diverse as Hawaii and New Zealand. Four fearless folks from the audience got up on stage and learned tribal Maori dances, one involving rhythmically swinging Poi Balls hanging from flax strings, proving that Team Buckley is still the most coordinated base on the Front Range.
Greeting those fortunate enough to make the event were bowls of dried bananas, mangos, and pineapple on each table, and the pictures of famous Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans scrolling on the huge video screens. Participants were also offered Lo Mein, Saffron Rice, Sticky Rice, Kalua Pork with Cabbage, and Brownie Bites with Toasted Coconut Marshmallows...Ono!
Denver County Court Judge Kerry Hada took to the podium as guest speaker. Judge Hada began by mentioning that he knew some of the famous Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans whose faces had been scrolling across the screens in the front of the room, and he spoke of their accomplishments, including those of Senator Daniel Inouye, the senior United States Senator from Hawaii, the President pro tempore of the United States Senate, and the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations. Judge Hada explained that Senator Inouye was also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who lost most of his right arm during combat action, while assigned to 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, which became the most-highly decorated unit in the history of the Army.
Judge Hada described himself as a native Coloradoan, who grew up picking melons with his grandmother in Colorado's Rocky Ford and Alamosa regions. He knew he wanted more for himself. "I'm the only person in my family to graduate college," he stated. His biography tells us that the judge "served in the U.S. Army from 1971-1974 as an Infantry Officer. While in the Army, he served as a Platoon Leader, Company Commander, and a Special Operations Team Leader. He was awarded the Expert Infantry Badge, the Airborne Badge, and was Ranger qualified." The judge, himself, tells us, "I have some regrets. I would like to have stayed in twenty years!"
"Live every day! You have to savor every day," philosophized the judge as he remembered a friend that had died too young. "Look at yourself in the mirror, and say to yourself, 'I did my very best.'" "Treasure your military days...What you're doing is so important to your own personal development, your own growth. This country's free because of you folks!"
As Judge Hada thought and talked about his youth and his family, he imparted, "Your family histories are treasures and mementos that no one can take from you." The judge closed his address by thanking the military that were present for their service.
Right back at you, Judge! Thank you for your service, both as an Army Ranger, and as a civil servant. You've made us proud!