Kentucky National Guard celebrates diversity & inclusion

By:  Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The Kentucky Army and Air National Guard hosted its 5th Annual Diversity Inclusion Day Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Frankfort, Ky., at the Wellman Armory. The event featured cultural cuisines for those in attendance and educational booths and displays. (photo by Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs)

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Kentucky Army and Air National Guard collaborated together to host the 5th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Day, Sept. 13th, in Frankfort, Ky., at the Wellman Armory.

Kentucky Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, opened the event stating all that come together with different attributes, different sensibilities, different backgrounds and different perspectives invigorates the team dynamic in the Guard and throughout our communities.

“You can’t put five basketball players that are all great point guards on the floor, because you need five different individuals with five different roles that complement each other and with that diversity fuels our team,” Hogan continued, “In my view, the second most important Army value is respect and if we have mutual respect for one another dedication and willingness to serve this nation we are going to be a stronger outfit.”

The event, themed “Embracing Change for Readiness,” showcased an all religious denomination booth, a promotion of healthy eating habits with a Mediterranean diet (MED) food demonstrations with recipes from countries such as Turkey, Italy, France, Israel and Jordan along with middle eastern countries who have adopted the MED diet such as Iraq, Dubai and Kuwait.  Appalachian and bluegrass music, wild game samples, soup beans, cornbread and sweet tea represented Kentucky.  The Irish culture, Frogmore stew, burgoo and boodle fight, a Filipino military tradition where the food is placed on top of a long banana leaf-lined table and diners do not sit in chairs but instead stand shoulder to shoulder along both sides of the table, were also a part of the three-hour event.

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Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton who served as an Army Civilian Nurse in Germany and also worked in South Korea as a nurse spoke during the Diversity Inclusion Day.  “As a woman, I can tell you diversity and inclusion are pretty important.  I like being included just like every one of you.” 

She also added, “As the Lexington Mayor, I am a CEO of a company and I am responsible for hiring nearly 3,000 people.  It is very important to me that we have a diverse group of employees. Diversion and inclusion is intentionally at the front of our minds.  A diverse population enriches our culture and makes our organization stronger.”

The Kentucky National Guard Recruiting and Retention highlighted the diversity of enlistments in the Guard and showcased civilian and military occupations to illustrate where recruiting is today. 

 “Diversity Inclusion Day is an opportunity for the Army and Air to come together and it is also a time for people to get educated and feel included.  You have to be included first to have diversity,” said Sheila Lawson, state equal employment manager for the Kentucky National Guard.  “In the Guard, we come from all different diverse backgrounds.”

Diversity Inclusion Day offered an array of cultural cuisines for those in attendance and educational booths and displays.  The event’s goal was to enhance cross-cultural awareness while promoting harmony among military members, families and civilian workforce. 

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