Soldiers celebrate fraternity 'founders day' in Iraq
November 27, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade "Warriors," 1st Cavalry Division, who are part of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, an all African-American fraternity, celebrated their founder's day Nov. 17.
Omega, for short, has a long and illustrious history which began in 1911, said Charleston, S.C., native Capt. Joseph Hamilton, commander of Company A, 615th Aviation Support "Cold Steel" Battalion, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div.
"This is recognition of the four founding fathers who started the fraternity - the hard work they went through to get us where we're at today," he said.
Omega was founded on four basic principles that the members believe help them and others throughout their lives, said Hampton, Va., native Maj. James Smith, executive officer for 615th ASB.
"The significance of the fraternity is it's founded on the cardinal principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift," said Smith. "We use those principles to guide us day in and day out ... in our support to the community as well."
It has been 96 years since Omega was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., but the values decided upon in that first meeting have carried on through the generations to the present, said Maj. Darien Baisley, the air defense coordinator for 1st ACB.
"We give contributions to different organizations, such as the United Negro College Fund, which is an annual contribution that the fraternity gives," said Baisley, a Shreveport, La., native.
Baisley also notes that there are more than a few notable members of this life-long fraternity.
He named former NBA superstar Michael Jordan; comedian Bill Cosby; activist Reverend Jesse Jackson; and even Gen. William "Kip" Ward, the first commander to U.S. Africa Command.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Alexandria, La., native Chap. (Capt.) Khallid Shabazz, the chaplain for 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB.
Shabazz, who had a rough start as a child, stressed taking responsibility for one's life and being strong through the most difficult times. He said it doesn't matter that there's racism, sexism or other myriad types of discrimination, "you still have to take responsibility for your life because, guess what' It's still your life."
The ceremony ended with the members huddled together singing their fraternity's song.
"It feels good; especially just to get together and celebrate at least this day ... especially in an environment like this," said Smith.