Soldiers, Family Members and Civilian Employees gathered May 28 to recognize Asian American / Pacific Islander Heritage Month during an annual luncheon and presentation at the Commons.
Maj. Sheldon Lu, chief of periodontics at Fort Drum Dental Activity, was guest speaker at the event. Lu, who was born in Nanjing, China, in 1981, provided a pictorial tour of the region, described some of the different cultures and told stories about his childhood.
At age 12, he immigrated to Spokane, Wash., where he attended junior high and high school. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., he moved to Pennsylvania to complete his
doctoral degree at University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine.
Lu was commissioned as a captain in 2007, and he has been stationed at Fort Drum since 2012.
“(Nanjing) is culturally distinct from other parts of China,” Lu said. “There’s a lot of culture that I grew up with that I didn’t appreciate until much later.”
Lu said he learned a lot from his experience growing up in China and later the “culture shock” of moving to the United States, but his service in the Army taught him about diversity.
“I haven’t been in the Army that long, but I’ve seen so many people from different places,” he said. “I think that’s a distinct feature of the military population. As a dentist, I see them on a daily basis. I don’t think you would see anywhere else in the world.”
Lu added that he appreciates all of the experiences and opportunities he has been afforded during his youth and military career.
“I still have relatives in China, and they all want to live here in your position because of the opportunities and what this nation has become,” he said.
“Before I go, I have a personal suggestion. When you see someone different from yourself – and we see this on a daily basis, we recognize those differences right away – I challenge you to see past that right away,” Lu continued. “Look past the color of their skin, the color of their hair, their stature or their accent. We all have something great to offer, and we want to continue to make this nation the envy of the world.”
Lt. Col. Daniel S. Morgan, 10th Mountain Division (LI) chief of staff – rear, provided closing remarks.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to see the youth here dressed in customary dress, because it shows what this nation is about, what we stand for and what it provides to people,” he said.
Morgan added that people around the world are in search of the “American Dream.” However, Morgan said he doesn’t believe that means becoming famous or making millions of dollars.
“That’s a great dream to have, but I don’t see that as the American Dream,” Morgan said. “The American Dream is what Maj. Lu stood up here (and just talked about). He took a chance and came to America to seek something different and something better.
“I’m touched when I see a Soldier wearing this uniform … become an American citizen,” he added. “That, to me, is what the American Dream is. Maj. Lu is an example to us all.”
After the formal portion of the ceremony, guests dined on different foods representing some of the countries that were recognized.
Family Members also provided entertainment by performing traditional dances from the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii.