Command Sgt. Maj. of Army Reserve observes Black History Month at Mosby Reserve Center
February 26, 2009
By Paul Bello
Command Sgt. Maj. of the Army Reserve Leon Caffie joined members of Fort Belvoir's Military Intelligence Readiness Command and 55th Sustainment Brigade Tuesday for a celebration marking February as Black History Month.
Caffie addressed the audience and said it's important to recognize the struggles of previous generations. A native of Montgomery, Ala., he recalled the injustices that occurred during the time leading up to the civil rights movement.
Segregated schooling and busing were one time commonplace in America. Even after fighting in the nation's biggest wars, Caffie said the military still used separate regiments until the last black unit was abolished in 1963.
Today, there's much progress to speak and be proud of, including the election of President Barack Obama, Caffie said. He pointed out to fellow reservists that getting to the future requires an understanding of the past and that you don't get there on your own.
"Whether white or black, we all want the same thing. That's an opportunity for many greater opportunities down the road," Caffie said. "Back where I used to live, they had separate transportation lines for whites and blacks. In a stand against segregation, a group of white housewives put the issue of color aside and helped put an end to that debate," he said.
"So when I see a man or woman in uniform, I don't look at their race or color. All I see is a Soldier."
Caffie added, with a combination of spirit and traditions, the Army Reserve is the most diverse branch of the military and he's proud to be a part of it.
Capt. Gerald Lyles IV, 55th Sustainment Brigade, agreed that all Americans should have an understanding of their history and importance to the country.
"I read recently there's some debate as to whether we need to recognize Black History Month," Lyles said. "We should honor our contributions to the American way of life and acknowledge those who have left their mark on our nation's culture. For that alone, Black History Month will never be obsolete."