Vandenberg's heritage day brings many together as one

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen Cadette
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Vandenberg's Cultural Heritage Day combined all annual cultural observances into one gala event of food, music, dance and displays in the Pacific Coast Club on Aug. 10.

Bringing together Asian, African, Native American and South American heritages and women's history, the event bore the moniker, "Of Many, One", a symbol of the Air Force's cultural diversity.

"Everybody brings something different to the fight," said Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander. "This event is a real celebration of who we are."

The crisp, earthy scent of Bonsai trees met small groups of people in the ballrooms. Guests meandered between half a dozen tables that were set up with artifacts and decorations like African baskets and bright-colored linen, women's history action figures and delicate lacquered Oriental tableware.

The variety of cultural objects had information cards to explain their history and background, which were researched and printed by retired Capt. Galynn Hermann, former chief of the 30th SW Military Equal Opportunity office. As an event volunteer, she stood at the Native American table to explain her favorite artifact - a pencil-thin hoop the size of a dinner plate, crossed and decorated with feathers.

"Each tip of the cross points in the four cardinal points - you know, north, south east and west - but each one is a sacred symbol as well, representing wind, fire, earth and water," she said. "This one was a lot of fun to research."

Nearly a hundred objects needed to be researched; some were property of the MEO office, others were lent by people from the Vandenberg Spouses Club, who volunteered to set up the tables.

The air carried scents of gryos, sweet grilled Korean style beef and salmon gently warming in chafing dishes on the other side of the ballroom. Guests piled large mounds of international food on compact disk-sized plates. Foods included thin Philippine-style noodles and chicken, fried corn tortilla and shredded pork rolls and chicken tava, a Turkish dish with tomatoes, cheese and garlic chunks the size of quarters.

The demonstrations began. As an African drum and dance troupe began to play, thunderous sounds of rhythmic tribal drums filled the room. A woman in a flowing sea green linen dress danced wildly to the traditional African music. Breaking out of the boundaries of the stage, she spun and weaved through the crowd of to the delight of the feasting guests.

"How do you put that motion into words?" said Kathleen Rowland. "It's more than a form of art; it's an expression. I don't know how anybody could not be moved by that." Mrs. Rowland, her son and daughter take Debbie Drapp's on-base kempo karate class, which was one of the cultural demonstrations later in the event.

The event came in the year the Air Force is ready to celebrate its 60th anniversary, hinting at cultural milestones like when the Air Force became the first racially integrated service in July 1, 1949, or when Congress passed the Women's Armed Service Integration Act, establishing Women in the Air Force June 12, 1948.