Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
The Combat Center celebrated Black History Month with a ceremony held Feb. 15 at the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital. A congregation of sailors and civilian personnel spent the afternoon recounting significant people who played key roles in founding and continuing the tradition of Black History Month in American culture.
Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States to remember important people and events in the history of the United States. The event stemmed from Negro History Week created by the historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Since 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month as a national observance.
“Respect, appreciation and strength makes a powerful team,” said Capt. Jay Sourbeer, commanding officer, Naval Hospital.
To have the best team, there needs to be respect among one another, Sourbeer added.
The ceremony included the singing of the National Anthem by Lt. Cmdr. Gloria Garner, a reading from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” speech by Petty Officer 1st Class Tracy Ashley, and a song and dance routine by Seaman Kamen Ray and Petty Officer 3rd Class Kendra Cruze.
“Today’s Navy is one where each individual can play on an even field,” said Navy Capt. Sandra Mason, Naval Hospital, after narrating the trials and tribulations of African-Americans in the Armed Forces.
Mason spoke about change and the overcoming of obstacles in life and the military by African-Americans. She depicted the actions of the first black pilot, the first black general and many other notable advances for African-Americans. Mainly, Mason offered guests a brief account on the significance of Black History Month within American culture.
“Get involved if you want to see change,” Mason challenged the crowd at the end of her speech. “It takes all of us.”