Marines

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Yette Lakanmi (left), and Joanne Chavis present their aso oke (a-show-kay) head wraps hand-loomed by the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria, during the 2010 Multicultural Heritage Day at the Goettge Memorial Field House aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 17. Service members, friends and families gathered at the event to experience the cultural music, dance, food and lifestyles of dozens of various cultures around the world.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

Camp Lejeune, area residents experience the world from own backyard

17 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

The 2010 Multi-Cultural Heritage Day kicked off with a blast of color, flavor, sounds and sights at the Goettge Memorial Field House aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 17. Service members learned about dozens of nationalities, foods, music and customs, all to better their understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it.

Marines and sailors were also enlightened on the importance of understanding one another through the realization that at the end of the day, they fight under the same flag.

Outside of the field house, attendees experienced international flavors from food vendors who served beverages, meals and snacks from their places of origin.

The entirety of the field house’s gymnasium was decorated with vibrant flags from nations across the world, as well as garments, statuettes, collectibles and artwork featured from other countries.

The masses were entertained by service members and people from the military community who volunteered the knowledge of their own nationalities’ native dances, as well as hip hop and pop songs that featured popular, fun dance steps.

“We all come from different backgrounds and different nationalities,” said Master Sgt. Kevin James, the equal opportunity advisor for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Installations East. “Someone once mentioned that after boot camp and the barber shaved your head, (the idea) is to get rid of individualism; I disagree. It’s like our nations motto – ‘E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one.’ Out of many individual Marines, we make our Marine Corps.”

James added that the event was a success due to a combined effort by the EOAs of other units, their service members and the community.

Master Sgt. Kirk Taylor, EOA with 2nd Marine Division, said that it’s the service members’ responsibility to expose themselves to one another socially.

“Because we come from all different walks of life from around the world, none of us are socialized the same way,” said Taylor. “When you want to get groups of different people to come together and function as a team, the only way to do that is to learn about each other’s culture and learn to understand each other. Ultimately, we have to, or there is no way we can become ‘one team, one fight.’”

Master Sgt. Reginald Mack, EOA with II Marine Expeditionary Force, said events like these have a high level of importance in and out of the military, and it is a way for people to show appreciation for one another.

“Events like this are very important to Marines, sailors and civilians across the Marine Corps, period,” said Mack. “We are a reflection of society and we work, play, sleep and eat beside all types of different people and cultures. It’s important to show appreciation for all those cultures, races and people that make up the Marine Corps as a whole.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Figgeroa, a surgical technician with 2nd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said the common bond is that everyone is different, which in turn makes everyone the same. At the end of the day, they still all fight for the same country.

“(Our culture) defines who we are,” said Figgeroa. “We need to learn how to work together and make a team so we can complete the mission at hand. But regardless of what we do or where we come from, we’re all Marines and sailors.”

James added that this was the first event of its kind but expects the event to grow in coming years, providing a bigger and better cultural experience every year.

For more information about Multicultural Heritage Day call 451-5372.