3SB hosts division Caribbean Heritage program
July 20, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - It isn’t unusual to see an Army installation host a cultural observance. These celebrations are held nearly monthly to celebrate the diversity of the U.S. military.
However, an observance held July 13 at Club Stewart celebrated a culture not often celebrated across the Army: Caribbean American Heritage.
The 260th Quartermaster Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Third Infantry Division hosted the celebration, which featured an original poem, a Reggae band and a dance group.
This was the second Caribbean heritage celebration the Division has hosted, the first one being held while the unit was deployed to Iraq. These celebrations are not often seen since Caribbean Heritage Month isn’t a nationally recognized observance.
“We have a lot of Caribbean Soldiers in the ranks, so we wanted to make sure they were recognized as well,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Ben Carter, the 260th QM Bn., Equal Opportunity Leader. “We wanted to do something special for them on their special day.”
“This was the first one I had been to,” said Chief Warrant Officer Alvin Clarke, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade human resources technician, and a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica. “It was well organized, and I enjoyed the performances. I liked the fact that they incorporated all of the islands.”
He added that his favorite part of the observance was the Soldiers who dressed as notable Caribbean Americans. The actors sat in various areas of the room and walked to the front of room while describing their contribution to American history.
“It meant a lot to me because pretty much all of the ethnic groups have their observances except for the Caribbeans, and I kind of felt left out,” Chief Warrant Officer Clarke said.
The guest speaker for the event was Master Sgt. Robert Smith, the 2010 Equal Opportunity Advisor of the Year and a native of Barbados. During his speech, he expanded on the theme, “Divided by Water, Connected by Culture.”
“Caribbean Americans have enriched our society and the strength of America,” he said during his speech. He added that the Caribbean is made up of nearly 24 islands, but they are “united by common values and shared history.”
Notable Caribbean Americans, he pointed out, are such figures as actor Sidney Portier, Jean Baptiste Pointe de Suble, the founder of Chicago, and Olympian Marion Jones. Other notables include politician Shirley Chisholm, activist James Weldon Johnson, and many more.
The event ended with a food tasting representing the various islands of the Caribbean.
Sergeant First Class Carter said he was happy with the way the event turned out and looks forward to seeing the Division host it again next year. Sergeant First Class Clarke added that he would also like to see other installations do the same.
“I think it’s something we should continue,” he said. “If I felt left out, I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way. If that means we have to step out and start the ball rolling, I would do it.”