Heritage day celebration unites all

15 Sep 2010 | Pfc. Scott L. Tomaszycki

Cherry Point Marines celebrated the diversity of the Marine Corps at its multicultural heritage day in the station theater Sept. 15.

The Marine Corps conducts events for eight different cultures annually, sometimes combining the observances into one celebration, such as Cherry Point’s multicultural heritage day.

“If you look across the broad spectrum of the Marine Corps, you find that the Marine Corps is not one, single ethnic group,” said Gunnery Sgt.  Harsheen T. Eady, MCAS Cherry Point’s equal opportunity adviser. “The Marine Corps is made up of a diversity of individuals who would lay down their lives for their fellow man and fellow woman. So what we want to do is to showcase the diversity of the Marine Corps.”

Educational booths were set up in the lobby of the station theater to teach visitors about various cultures. In addition, Marines were also presented with a booth about Marine Corps culture.

“I want to show young Marines what their grandfather’s carried,” said retired Staff Sgt. Frank Brewer. “Most people get their history from the TV. I want to give people a chance to feel it.”

Brewer had a three-booth section to display to the public his collection of World War II weapons, clothing and equipment.

According to Sgt. Alan J. Stinar, an engine mechanic with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 and a volunteer for the event, understanding people’s cultures helps him to better understand how people think because different cultures have different ethics and values. He also said he enjoyed the on-stage performances.

“It’s always good to give a presentation and let people see what our lives used to be like,” said Terry L. White, a performer with the Southern Suns, a Lumbee Indian dance group. “It’s very important to preserve culture. It gives people an identity. If we lose it, then we disappear.”

Besides the Lumbee Indians, the celebration also featured performances by the Jonkonnu Dancers, a traditional African-American storyteller and a Polynesian dance group.

“It was very informative of people’s cultures,” said Lance Cpl. Roxcell R. Bartholomew, a fiscal clerk with VMGR-252 and volunteer for the event. “I learned a lot. It helps you to appreciate people’s personalities because you know where they’re coming from.”

Eady also highlighted the importance of knowing the cultures that influence the Marine Corps.

“It is important because one of the most powerful things that handicaps a lot of Americans is ignorance,” said Eady. “If you do not know, then you already assume, and if you assume, then you create stereotypes. To break down the walls of stereotypes, racism, criticism and prejudice are events like this that get you to understand the cultures that make up the Marine Corps and more importantly the cultures that make up the United States of America.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point