COLUMBUS, Ohio –
A May 23 ceremony at the Defense Supply Center Columbus honored the heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and recognized their contributions to the community.
The program’s theme, Unite Our Vision by Working Together, highlighted the rich cultural history of Asian Americans in Central Ohio and across the U.S.
The event’s guest speaker Dr. Yung-Chen Lu, professor emeritus at The Ohio State University, talked about his history of civic work within the Asian community and his efforts to expose that culture to the general public.
“I found myself itching to do more in life and find fulfillment in helping others,” Lu said. “I wanted to contribute to the community while remaining rooted in my Asian heritage.”
Lu established the Asian Meal Program to provide nutritious lunches to elderly Asian Americans in Central Ohio and helped establish the Asian Free Clinic, which provides care to approximately 400 people annually.
He also founded the Columbus Asian Festival in 1995, which has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the country, drawing more than 100,000 attendees each year.
Lu said when he arrived in Columbus during the 1970’s, there were very few support programs for the Asian community. After nearly five decades of volunteerism and community involvement, he’s earned his own place in the cultural heritage of the region.
In 2013, Lu was inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. He was the first Asian American to receive the honor.
Following a proclamation by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, May has been designated as Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month. The month commemorates two key anniversaries in Asian Pacific American history; the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants into the U.S. in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The railroad was built largely by Asian immigrants.
Since 2000, the Defense Logistics Agency has honored the month with educational and cultural events hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Office’s Asian Pacific American Employment Program. At DLA Land and Maritime, the APA raises awareness through its outreach programs and participation in DSCC’s multicultural events while encouraging professional development and leadership skills of Asian Pacific American associates.
The ceremony ended with the announcement of this year’s recipient of the Shoong Yin award. The award is named in honor of a former DLA Land and Maritime associate who passed away in 2003. Yin was a founding member of the APA Employment Program and served as that organization’s manager.
The Shoong Yin award was created to recognize a member of the Defense Federal Community for outstanding contributions towards furthering an equality of opportunity within the Asian and Pacific American community.
The 2018 award recipient was Sally Souvannavong, a Surface Cell branch chief at DLA Land and Maritime. Hoa Ta, chair of the APA Employment Program, said Souvannavong has been an integral part of the program for more than 10 years.
“I worked with Sally for many years, and I’ve seen firsthand how much she’s a strong advocate for the Asian American community,” Ta said. “She promotes the community through her steadfast dedication, her tireless outreach efforts and strong work ethic.”
Leadership representatives from the installation’s two largest tenants, DLA Land and Maritime and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Columbus, presented the award on behalf of the Defense Federal Community.
“We can all appreciate the variety that the Asian Pacific American community brings to our collective identity,” said Griff Warren, DLA Land and Maritime chief of staff. “With more than 14 million Asian Americans spread from coast to coast – their impact on our national discussion is significant.”
Attendees at the event also had the opportunity to sample an assortment of Asian foods, including a variety of sushi, desserts and side dishes.
Visit DLA Land and Maritime’s APA Employment Program page for more information.