MCAA observances educate, celebrate highlighted cultures

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chad Eiring
  • MCAA president
Although recently briefed as a best practice at the Air Combat Command Commanders’ Conference, Ellsworth’s Multi-Cultural Awareness Association may not be a familiar name to many Ellsworth Airmen.

This unique organization has been given the mission to provide cultural variety and awareness to the 28th Bomb Wing and surrounding communities through education, information and experience.

Our primary focus is to celebrate six Department of Defense Ethnic Observances throughout the year. These are Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembrance, African-American/Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and American Indian Heritage Month.

Many people believe these ethnic observances are intended for people of the celebrated backgrounds. However, the primary focus of the MCAA in planning each observance is for attendees to walk away with a greater understanding of the group being observed.

One of the MCAA’s methods to promote understanding is to hold a wing luncheon for each observance.

In preparing such luncheons the MCAA works to depict the art, history and accomplishments of the culture through decorations, menu and guest speaker choices. These luncheons offer a fantastic opportunity to learn about other cultures through the wisdom of prominent individuals willing to share their experiences with our military community.

If you have yet to attend a luncheon, I encourage you to attend the upcoming African-American Heritage Luncheon, scheduled for Feb. 16, at which Maj. Gen. Roosevelt Mercer, U.S. Strategic Command Director of Combat and Information, will be the guest speaker.

In addition to these luncheons, the MCAA strives to include at least one other event for base personnel to celebrate diversity during each observance month.

For example, we’ve hosted children’s days for the Asian/Pacific-American and Hispanic Heritage months. These free, events included craft projects, music, language lessons, dances and ethnic food for the children to enjoy.

For American-Indian Heritage Month, the MCAA planned and sponsored a Native American Cultural Tour. During the tour, 25 individuals spent a day on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation visiting educational, cultural and historical sites highlighting the history and future of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

The MCAA has also hosted essay contests, special movie showings and discussion forums.

The MCAA also strengthens ties between Ellsworth and the local community through shared diversity events.

In conjunction with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, the Ellsworth MCAA participated in a Cultural Diversity Expo, at which MCAA members spent a day speaking with 500 children from local schools, discussing diversity in the Air Force and the benefits derived from our diversity.

The MCAA is able to accomplish all of this through the hard work of our volunteers. The last benefit we provide the community is the opportunity to get involved. Those who attend our events can learn about other cultures; however, those who plan and host these events, are able to be immersed in them.

Just as with attendance, being of a particular ethnic background is not a requirement to assist in hosting events. In fact, our volunteers are often not of the particular ethnic background being celebrated.

The MCAA offers a fun and educational way to be involved in Ellsworth and the surrounding community. Membership is open to all enlisted, officer and civilians. MCAA meets the first Thursday of every month in the Rushmore Center’s Military Equal Opportunity classroom.

For more information, you can call executive council members 1st Lt. Mary Clement at 385-4929, Tech. Sgt. Aleta Raney at 385-2144, or Staff Sgt. Dina Richard at 385-4567. Or contact MCAA president Master Sgt. Chad Eiring at 385-1675, or via e-mail at