LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Airmen from across Little Rock Air Force Base gathered for a Diversity and Inclusion Celebration to recognize Department of Defense special observances in one all-inclusive event, April 9.
The event was held in conjunction with LRAFB’s Spring Wingmen Day and was a Total Force Initiative, bringing together Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing, 314th AW, 189th AW, 913th Airlift Group and various tenant units.
“We are stronger as a force when we recognize that multiple viewpoints and different life experiences positively contribute to executing the Herk Nation mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brock Atchley, 19th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “Events like this give us a chance to step back and realize how important diversity and inclusion is and provides an opportunity to simply talk to each other.”
The DoD features a variety of observances, celebrations, and recognition events throughout the year, to enhance cross-cultural and cross-gender awareness and promote harmony, pride, teamwork and esprit de corps across the services.
The Herk Nation D&I Celebration recognized those observances with a unity march, guest speakers, and performances — all with a purpose of connecting Airmen to the qualities that make each heritage, ethnicity and culture unique.
National Basketball Association Hall-of-Famer and founder of the “We Are One” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative, Sidney Moncrief, served as the keynote speaker for the event. Moncrief shared his personal story along with insights on how to build a strong and inclusive culture of respect and understanding.
“As an installation, we welcome diversity and inclusion with an open, comprehensive discussion focused on more than just gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th AW and installation commander. “This conversation includes personal life experiences, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural knowledge, education, as well as philosophical and spiritual perspectives.”
Due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, members of LRAFB who were unable to attend the celebration in person were afforded the opportunity to tune in virtually and still take part in the diversity and inclusion festivities.
The event provided an opportunity for members of LRAFB to learn from and about each other in order to build a stronger force, as well as a culture of acceptance.
“The D&I Celebration should be a day that reminds us of our responsibility to forge a culture of inclusion,” Schutte said. “A culture where every member feels connected, respected and valued. It’s Airmen who fuel our ability to adapt, it’s Airmen whose know-how and determination allow us to forge a lethal and ready force — and it is this diverse and inclusive force that will safeguard our freedoms.”