Fort Bliss, TX (KTSM) — The students of Sergeants, Major Course Class 63 celebrated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with a program Friday, held in the Cooper Lecture Center of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
This year’s theme, “Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion” provided the audience with a short history on the Asian-Pacific American contributions and culture, as well as a martial arts demonstration and Pacific Islander Warrior Dance, all by Class 63 members.
Celebrated in May to commemorate the contributions of persons of Asia and Pacific Islander descent, it was originally introduced as Pacific/Asian Heritage Week by Congressman Frank Horton and Norman Mineta in the House of Representatives in July 1977. The week was chosen because of two important anniversaries which occurred during this time: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to America on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad by mostly Chinese Laborers on May 10, 1869. Congress later voted to expand the week to a month-long celebration.
The guest speaker for the event was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Keehu, a defense contractor with FSCX, Inc., and an associate professor and senior mentor for the Sergeants Major Course. Keehu greeted those in attendance and said it would be difficult for him to stand there and talk about the 41 different countries that comprise the Asian-Pacific American culture, but what he could talk about is leadership culture, something he learned from his upbringing and teachings from his father and family.
“To be successful in the military and in your life, you have to start thinking like an executive,” he said. “You are all executives. The officer is the CEO of a 600-member organization and if you are the command sergeant major, you are the vice president.”
Keehu added, “That makes you a VIP, but not the one you are thinking of.” He explained the “V” stands for volunteering, vision, versatility, values and voice.
“You are the voice of the organization,” he said.
The “I” represents integrity, initiative, and imaginative. “It does not mean Internet. Don’t be that sergeant major who works from a computer.”
The “P” stands for perspective, prioritize, pride, professionalism and pray.
“So VIP doesn’t mean very important person, it means very inspirational person that Soldiers look up to,” Keehu said. “When you leave here, be that person to your Soldiers.”
“If you do that,” he said, “you create a culture through positive leadership, just like my family has for generations.”