Special observances grant opportunities to experience culture Published July 22, 2010 By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Lawley 36th Wing Equal Opportunity ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- I would venture to say that most stationed or living on Guam have taken the time to sample the local cuisine, and with good reason. But how many of us have taken the time to sample the heritage, culture, and history of its people? There is a great opportunity right here at Andersen to sample, not only the food, but the diversity that surrounds us. The diversity I'm speaking of does not just entail the local culture but encompasses all the proud heritages that have shaped and formed the society of the United States. In 1968 the Department of Defense (DoD) implemented the National Months of Observance as one of the ways to recognize and celebrate the diversity that has driven, and continues to drive, our military and nation. The United States military has proudly supported this DoD initiative through the development of local programs at military installations world-wide. These programs are designed to increase total force awareness by highlighting the contributions that different cultures and ethnicities have made to our great nation's rich history and its defense. Program emphasis is placed on cross-cultural communication and awareness, which leads to an amplified understanding and mutual respect for others. The observances range from a single day of commemoration, like the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., to month long celebrations, such as Hispanic and Native American History months. The DoD incorporates annual themes for each observance, which each installation can use to help shape their celebrations or planned activities. While recently discussing the Special Observances with the 36 Wing Equal Opportunity office, Colonel Tod Fingal, 36 Wing Vice Commander commented, "These important programs contribute to our mission readiness and are directly linked to Andersen AFB's priority of developing our Airmen while caring for their families." Participation in these programs gives all members of the Andersen community, whether military, family members, or the civilian workforce, a chance not only to learn about different cultures but also a chance to meet new people. This contributes to mission readiness by boosting morale through fun and entertaining events and by cultivating understanding and respect for others. The success of these programs hinges on leadership support and the participation of the Andersen community. Everyone is invited to take part and share their ideas for these celebrations. Volunteer opportunities for each program ranges from project officers, sub-committee members, to those that have a talent; whether it is culinary, singing, dancing, etc. This is a great opportunity to showcase your skills and enrich the knowledge and understanding of the joint force while doing so. By volunteering your time, skills, or ideas for these events you will not only get the chance to sample different cultures or help celebrate your own, you will reinforce the Department of Defense overall objective - to recognize the continuous achievements of all Americans to American culture and to increase awareness, mutual respect, and understanding. If you would like to volunteer for any of the upcoming special observances please call the 36 Wing Equal Opportunity office at 366-5111 or email 36WG.EO@andersen.af.mil. For a complete list of the 2010 DoD Special Observances and themes, please visit the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute website at http://www.deomi.org/SpecialObservance/index.cfm.