Military Equal Opportunity - Ethnic Observances

Department of Defense (DOD) celebrates eight ethnic observances annually in support of Joint Congressional Resolution, Presidential Proclamation, and achievements of all groups that comprise the society of the United States. Since 1968, the DOD has supported ethnic observances through the development of local programs of recognition and many diverse activities. Activities are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness and promote harmony among all military members, their families, and the civilian work force. These activities are extensions of the equal opportunity education and training objectives. They are set aside to recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific racial or ethnic groups in our society. The focus of the observance should be directed towards encouraging interaction and not just recognition.

6-19. EO special/ethnic observances EO special/ethnic observances are conducted to enhance cross-cultural awareness among all Soldiers, civilian employees, and their families. These observances recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific racial, ethnic, or gender groups in our society. The observances should also promote understanding, teamwork, harmony, pride, and esprit among all groups, not just within the specific group being honored.

a. HQDA, ODCS, G-1 possesses general staff responsibility for establishing policy and identifying the time period for each observance.

    Senior mission/installation commanders will:
  • Develop, plan, and conduct observances during the designated time frame as outlined in table 6-1 or as otherwise directed by HQDA.
  • Encourage all members of the military community to contribute to and participate in the planning, implementation, and conduct of the observance activities.
  • Involve members of the staff elements and subordinate units in the development and conduct of observance functions.
  • Select and announce an appropriate theme for the observance, consistent with the spirit of the event and the needs of the local community. National or DOD themes are often published that may be used to augment the activities.
  • EO Program management or education and training funds may be spent on activities and publications that are intended to promote cross-cultural harmony and awareness. Examples of permissible expenditures include guest speakers, artistic or cultural activities, food exhibits or samples (samples are not intended as meals or refreshments). Additionally, funds may be allocated to commercial entertainment as part of an educational awareness program. Commanders will ensure that projected events amplify the contributions made to the Army and to society by the featured ethnic, gender, or racial group.

b. Commanders will publicize the cultural/ethnic event in post newspapers and bulletins to provide widest dissemination possible.

c. Commanders will form a standing committee to plan cultural observances. Members of the committee may include the EOA, morale, welfare and recreations (MWR) officer, PAO, club managers, unit chaplains, DOD dependent school representatives, resource management personnel, and other individuals as necessary.

d. Commanders will encourage maximum use of recreational facilities to include the post library, recreation center, theater, and so forth for use during observation of the special events. Suggested activities include the following:

  • Special displays in libraries
  • Expositions and displays of arts and crafts
  • Special music or drama programs
  • Programs featuring historical achievements and contributions by various ethnic groups to government, education, industry, religion, music and theater 5) Speeches from local chain of command and DOD civilians.

e. Activities will be designated and scheduled to allow for maximum attendance by all Soldiers and civilians within the command. Commanders will establish a policy that ensures that all personnel desiring to participate in these observances are given a reasonable opportunity to do so.

f. A consolidated annual observance recognizing members of all racial/ethnic/gender groups may be conducted in addition to (but will not be used in place of) the observances listed in table 6-1.

g. Funding for installation special/ethnic observances will come from HQ, Installation Management Agency to the garrison commander.

AR 600-20, 6-19, Table 6-1, Special commemorations/ethnic observances timetable:
  • Month: January
    Dates: 3d Monday
    Observance: Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday
    Authority/comment: Public Law 98-144, Nov. 83 (Federal holiday)
  • Month: February
    Dates: 1-28/2
    Observance: African-American/Black History Month
    Authority/comment: First Presidential Proclamation, Feb. 76
  • Month: March
    Dates: 1-31
    Observance: Women's History Month
    Authority/comment: Public Law 100-9, Mar 87
  • Month: April/May
    Dates: Sunday to Sunday for Week Incorporating Yom Hashoah
    Observance: "Days of Remembrance" for Victims of the Holocaust
    Authority/comment: Public Law 96-388, Oct. 80
  • Month: May
    Dates: 1-31
    Observance: Asian Pacific Heritage Month
    Authority/comment: First Presidential Proclamation, May 91
  • Month: August
    Dates: 26
    Observance: Women's Equality Day
    Authority/comment: First Presidential Proclamation, Aug. 73
  • Month: September/October
    Dates: 15 Sep. - 15 Oct.
    Observance: National Hispanic Heritage Month
    Authority/comment: Public Law 100-402, Aug. 88
  • Month: November
    Dates: 1-30
    Observance: National Native American Indian Heritage Month
    Authority/comment: Public Law 102-188, Mar 92