Mission partner shares importance of DoD observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month

  • Published
  • By Nadine Wiley De Moura, 688th Cyberspace Wing Public Affairs
  • 688th Cyberspace Wing
Capt. Hanna Sparks, Military Personnel Flight Commander, 802nd Force Support Squadron, 502nd Air Base Wing—one of our mission partners at Joint Base San Antonio—summarized the importance of last month’s May observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

“May was important to me because I'm proud of my Asian heritage, but I'm also a proud American, and I believe history should acknowledge the struggles and accomplishments of our Asian American and PI brothers and sisters. Asian American history is American history.

I commissioned from Detachment 485 at Rutgers University in 2013. My father was also in the military so I don't have one place where I grew up. Home is where the Air Force sends me.

AAPI Heritage Month is important to me because Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a long history in this country, and were integral to building the literal infrastructure of this nation. 20,000 Chinese immigrants helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Since then, AAPIs have made contributions to every war effort, yet historically we've also been faced with discrimination. From the Page Act of 1875, the first restrictive federal immigration in the law in the U.S. which banned the entry of Chinese women, to the broader Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to Executive Order 9066 to United States vs. Komatsu, to the wave of anti-Muslim sentiment after the attacks on 9/11, to the current rise in attacks against AAPIs, there is no shortage of examples of AAPI discrimination. The historical context is critical to understanding the #stopasianhate efforts now.

Observances contribute to the DoD mission by empowering individuals to feel like they can be their full, authentic selves. By recognizing the accomplishments of various groups, in particular groups that have historically been marginalized, we are creating a culture of inclusivity. This is important because people are our greatest asset, and inclusive cultures also drive creativity, innovation, and belonging. From a retention perspective, fostering belongingness has the potential to mitigate attrition issues. From a national security perspective, innovative organizations lead to innovative solutions which leads us to get after the CSAF's strategic guidance - accelerate change or lose.” - Capt. Hanna Sparks