Camp Lejeune Marines celebrate multicultural heritage day
The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — As a true Native American Navajo, Lance Cpl. Ariel Guyton gets asked a lot of questions about her heritage.
That’s why she sat behind the Native American booth at Camp Lejeune’s Multicultural Heritage Day Wednesday — to teach other Marines about her heritage and help them understand where she comes from.
“Before the Marine Corps I really didn’t care to know about my culture,” Guyton said. “I was always around Native Americans and being in the Marine Corps people always ask what nationality I am. ... It made me want to know more about my own culture and being Navajo.”
Guyton was one of about 100 Marines at Marston Pavilion on Camp Lejeune to celebrate the many cultures and nationalities that make up the United States Marine Corps.
“As a fighting force we’re so diverse,” said Gunnery Sgt. Harsheen Eady, an equal opportunity advisor who helped coordinate the event. “Often times our focus is on mission accomplishment — fighting wars, building humanitarian connections with our countries — that we forget to look at all the pieces that make that happen.”
Both ballrooms at Marston Pavilion were lined with booths representing cultures from all across the world — Asia, Latin America, Hawaii, Africa and the Caribbean. Many of the cultural representatives brought food and drinks from their home country and others provided entertainment in the form of belly dancing and salsa dancing.
“(The belly dancer) was a really good performer,” said Lance Cpl. Clayton Ortiz, adding that he and his friends enjoyed sitting front and center for her performance.
Chief Warrant Officer-2 Mauricio Piedrahita said he is studying to be an equal opportunity advisor in the Marine Corps and he went to the event Wednesday to learn more about the diverse culture of the Corps.
As a Colombian-American, Piedrahita was pleasantly surprised to see a booth full of Hispanic food that reminded him of home, including chorizo and empanadas.
“I didn’t realize (the Hispanic food) was going to be here,” Piedrahita said. “It was definitely a nice surprise.”
Eady said the equal opportunity office — who coordinated the event — was pleased with the turnout and felt that Multicultural Heritage Day met their mission expectations.
“The equal opportunity advisor’s office’s mission is to support the commander’s responsibility of creating a climate where every marine and sailor has the ability to reach their maximum potential,” he said. “If there’s only one person that is touched or that learns something today, I think we’ve accomplished our mission.”