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Luau celebrates Asian/Pacific American heritage

Members of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center perform a traditional lion dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Members of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center perform a traditional lion dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Members of the Na Wahine I Kanani O'Tucson perform Tahitian dances during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Members of the Na Wahine I Kanani O'Tucson perform Tahitian dances during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Performers demonstrate a traditional Polynesian group dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Performers demonstrate a traditional Polynesian group dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Performers demonstrate a traditional Polynesian dance at the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Performers demonstrate a traditional Polynesian dance at the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Kenji Azeka (left) and Nick Ballinger, both members of Suzuyuki-Kai MoGan Daiko, perform Taiko drumming to represent the culture of Japan during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Kenji Azeka (left) and Nick Ballinger, both members of Suzuyuki-Kai MoGan Daiko, perform Taiko drumming to represent the culture of Japan during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, a member of the Arathi School of Indian Dances, performs a traditional dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, a member of the Arathi School of Indian Dances, performs a traditional dance during the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Luau at Bama Park here June 1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- More than 400 members of the Desert Lightning community celebrated Asian/Pacific American Heritage at a luau held June 1 at Bama Park here.

The entertainment, with its variety of festive dances in a family-oriented environment, provided attendees an up-close look at some unique cultural customs.

"The main goal of the luau was to showcase different parts of our Asian culture through music and dance," said Staff Sgt. Jeanie Lu Leina'ala Holland, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics planner and vice president of the D-M chapter of the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association. "The luau was also planned to provide people a relaxed setting while learning about our heritage."

The lineup of performances included Chinese Lion dancers from the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, Philippine dancing by members of APAHA, Indian dances, Japanese dances and Taiko drumming, all representing Asian cultures. The Pacific cultures were represented by Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan, Fijian and Maori dances, which were performed by individuals from APAHA and local Tucsonans of Polynesian descent.

"We also had a legendary Tucson Hawaiian entertainer, Ernie Menehune, in attendance, who sang his patriotic tribute to our D-M folks," said Marie Aliwalas Hanna, base training and educational services flight chief and the entertainment coordinator for the luau.

The menu for the evening, which featured a catered meal of roasted pig and other cultural delights, took all day to prepare, said Ms. Hanna.

"This event was successful due to the awesome support of our installation commander, Col. Kent Laughbaum, the teamwork of all of the committee members, APAHA members, and the assistance of the different services and squadrons," said Ms. Hanna.

She said the goal of the luau and Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association is to recognize the various cultures and diverse backgrounds of different Asian and Pacific cultures.

"Asian Pacific Americans contributed greatly to this wonderful country," Ms. Hanna added. "Let's not forget that each of us, whatever our background or culture, makes a difference in this country and in this world."