May 28, 2021

Highlighting API Contributions to the U.S. Military

Holland & Knight Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Spotlight Series

Holland & Knight's Diversity Council and Asian/Pacific Islander (API) Affinity Group are proud to celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and pay tribute to the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and continue to play a role in its future success. This year, we took time to reflect on how we could better support our API colleagues, sitting down with attorneys and staff to have important conversations about racial justice and allyship. Throughout the coming weeks, we will be presenting a video series showcasing some of these conversations. We hope that the stories conveyed in these videos help advance dialogue around API Heritage Month as well as lead to further discussions of how we can be better allies to our API friends, family and colleagues.

In the fourth episode of this series, Partner Curtis Sano and IT Support Specialist Brian Delostrinos talk about API participation in the U.S. military. From the War of 1812 to World War II to present-day conflicts in the Middle East, Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage have made and continue to make important contributions to the U.S. Armed Forces, despite facing discrimination in their everyday lives. After recapping some of these contributions, Curtis introduces Brian, who has served both in the U.S. Army and the U.S. National Guard. Brian's father and brother also served in the military, and he credits his service with giving him direction and drive that have enabled him to find success in civilian jobs, including nearly 20 years spent at Holland & Knight.


Video Transcript

Highlighting API Contributions to the U.S. Military

Curtis Sano: Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage have had a long history of contributing to the defense of our country. In the earliest days of our country during the War of 1812, Americans of Filipino descent fought as part of the forces of General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Researchers have documented at least 300 combatants of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage during the American Civil War. These soldiers hailed from China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Polynesia and throughout Asia and Oceania. Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent continue to serve and fight for the United States, often despite discrimination and second class treatment. Among their contributions during World War II, roughly 14,000 Japanese Americans served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, despite many of their families being imprisoned in internment camps. This service has continued through the Korean War, the Vietnam conflict, Iraq, Afghanistan and to this day. I am proud to introduce Brian Delostrinos of Holland & Knight, who served in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1996 and in the National Guard from 2003 to 2007.

Highlighting API Contributions to the U.S. Military

Brian Delostrinos: My father served in the U.S. Navy for over 25 years, and my brother enlisted a year before I did. We were living in, when my dad retired, we were living in Key West, Florida, which is a very small community where I was looking to get out and experience more. I was 17 years old when I enlisted just out of high school, and I pretty much just wanted to get off the island and have the opportunity to work and travel in different places. I was able to serve our country and knowing that our work had a positive impact on many lives we crossed, whether it was stateside or on foreign soil. I believe my military service has positively impacted any of the civilian jobs that I've worked in, Holland & Knight being the longest. I've been there for just over, just about 20 years now. And I believe it's helped out mostly because it keeps me motivated. You have a specific drive: Once you're tasked to do something, then, you know, my mentality is just basically let's get it done in the quickest and easiest way possible. And I believe that's really helped out on many projects that I've been on with the firm. My experience in the military has been the best. I was just a kid. I had no direction. The military molded me into the person I am today. Being an API member didn't matter. And the reason is basically when I joined the army, I selected the airborne infantry, and in the infantry they treated everyone the same. It didn't matter whether, where you came from. You either did the job, or you'll be on your way out. I didn't see my leadership give any special privileges to anyone because of their race.

More Videos in this Series

Episode 1: A Series Introduction from Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity Group Chair Stacey Wang

Episode 2: Witnessing API Discrimination: A Shared Experience

Episode 3: Kristin Asai Shares Her Family History in the U.S. Japanese Internment Camps

Episode 4: Highlighting API Contributions to the U.S. Military (You are currently viewing Episode 4)

Episode 5: A Brief History of Discrimination Against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

Episode 6: Becoming an Ally with Jennifer A. Mansfield

Episode 7: Perspectives from a Second Generation Samoan American

Episode 8: Reflecting on the Importance of Professional Mentors

Episode 9: Explaining the Model Minority Myth

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