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Why participate in special observances?

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The futuristic cartoon, "The Jetson's" first aired in 1962, depicting a modern utopia chocked full of technology. Today's technology is creeping closer to "The Jetson's" with inventions such as cars that park themselves and automatic dirt-sensing vacuum cleaners; but are we developing our human relations at the same rate?

As a whole, human relations have drastically improved since 1962, but how can we continue to move forward? The key to better human relations is through education and experience, both of which can be experienced during special observances. Special observances are conducted to recognize the continuous achievements of all Americans so that there is an increased awareness, mutual respect, and understanding.

To encourage everyone to learn more about the diverse people who make up our fine country, special observances are extensions of the equal opportunity education and training objectives. The events and activities for special observances aim to teach people about cultural differences and similarities. Though we can't see the world through someone else's eyes, with education, misconceptions can be cleared and we can better empathize with the obstacles others may face.

The secondary focus of the observance should be to encourage interaction, not just recognition. Using special observances gives the opportunity for others to gain experience interacting with diverse groups rather than just acknowledging the culture or group. The purpose of observances is to get people from all backgrounds involved and exposed to new materials which encourage quicker as well as deeper learning.

Annual observances provide a constant focus. Variety comes from doing different activities each year to recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific groups in our society.

It has been said that the armed forces do not obsess over their differences. Rather, they focus on the mission at hand and work together. These words are proven mission after mission. We can complete our missions better and serve as the shining example by participating in special observances, by educating ourselves on other cultures we are unfamiliar with, and by scrutinizing how we relate to other people.

The day of the flying car may be just on the horizon. We can only hope our human relations continue to develop at the same rate. Let's make Equal Opportunity offices obsolete!

Observances

· January Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

· February Black History Month

· March Women's History Month

· May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

· Sep 15 - Oct 15 Hispanic Heritage Month

· October Disability Employment Awareness Month

· November American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month