Month's theme is blacks in Civil War
Maj. Gen. James Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson takes great pride, as we do every year, in hosting a number of events to celebrate African-American/Black History month. This year is no exception as we have had already executed two very enjoyable and entertaining events. On Saturday we hosted a 5-kilometer fun run/walk, and Tuesday, we had our annual luncheon at the Solomon Center.

A third event, scheduled for Feb. 26, also promises to be a tremendous success. This final Black History Month event deals with a living memorial that will be set up on Darby Field. We anticipate a display of a Civil War camp of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. This ties directly to this year's theme, which is African-Americans and the Civil War. The 54th Infantry regiment was one of the first official black units during that devastating, monumental war.

As you probably already know, Black History Month occurs each year in February. This month was chosen because it contains the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Frederick Douglass was a former slave, renowned orator, journalist and advocate. President Lincoln, America's 16th president, issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Civil War records speak for themselves, and the efforts of many African-Americans to preserve the Union have finally begun to receive historical attention. It's been 150 years since the start of the Civil War, and this month we are reflecting on the thousands of African-Americans who made tremendous sacrifices in helping free millions of men and women from slavery.

In recognition of those people of African heritage who had fought so bravely to defeat slavery and promote universal freedom in the United States, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History selected "African-Americans and the Civil War" as this year's Black History Month theme.

Soldiers, such as those who served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, were inspirational in their cause. Additionally, away from the battlefields, there were black men and women who supported the war effort serving as nurses, preachers, spies, doctors and in other important functions. The American spirit overcame intolerance and prevailed in the fight for liberty, justice and equality.

It is estimated that 4 million people of African heritage were involved in the war effort in one way or another. Some 200,000 joined the Union Army to take up arms, destroy the Confederacy and put an end to slavery. As we all know, history-changing contributions from African-Americans did not begin or end with the Civil War.

Each year, African-American/Black History month takes us down a historical path that we must remember. Our Fort Jackson community has the opportunity to learn about the rich African-American culture and from the many achievements that have taken place over the years. I, for one, believe it is imperative that we remind ourselves of the path that has been traveled to give us a better perspective of where we have been and a greater appreciation for where we are heading in the future.

Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!

Page last updated Thu February 17th, 2011 at 07:53