JBM-HH's Smalls guest speaker at D.C. school's Black History Month program
March 1, 2013
February's Black History Month celebrations and informational programs provide curious children and adults opportunities to educate themselves about civil rights pioneers and those who blazed trails toward equality.
On Feb. 25, second graders at Ideal Academy Public Charter School in Northwest Washington, D.C., hosted a Black History Month program and tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Lt. Col. Priscilla Smalls was the honorary guest of honor for the school's celebration.
The informal presentation by Smalls, a JBM-HH Headquarters Command Battalion logistician, took everyday Army language and translated the military lingo so a 7-year-old could understand the basics of life at a military installation. She also emphasized the importance of education, and the 23-year Army veteran also remembered how past African-American sacrifices paved a path for her hopes and dreams.
"Because of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am in the Army. How did I get in the Army? First, I finished school -- first to twelfth grade -- I got my high school degree and then I went to college," Smalls said during her 12-minute chat and question and answer session. "Through college, I got into the military through ROTC, which was great. After college, I became an officer.
"I've been promoted five times. Today, I am a lieutenant colonel," she told the wide-eyed youngsters. "I know one day, we will have a [future] general who is [going to school] in this building. Just get good grades, stay in school and do the right thing, and one day you will become a general and maybe the president of the United States."
Smalls spoke following student skits, songs and historical presentations, and among the highlights of her visit were the questions asked and the chance to meet and greet the children.
Prior to the Q and A portion of her visit, Smalls informed students that her Army missions sent her traveling to a handful of states plus Afghanistan. That statement stuck with the kids and drew much curiosity during question time.
"How did you visit all those states?" an inquisitive student asked, and Smalls answered by telling the kids how deployments and the length of missions worked.
"The military keeps you at one place for at least four years. After four years, you move to another place, which is another city, another state. Every four years, I move," she answered.
"I've also been to Afghanistan, where I fought the war. I did that in 2008 through 2009. It was a very good experience. That's how I got this patch right here [points to right upper arm], which is a combat patch," Smalls added.
She also explained her Army job description to an audience of around 150 students, teachers and parents.
"What I do in the Army is a logistician -- let me break that down," she explained. "If you need a plane -- if Soldiers need to go on a plane, or bus or a train -- I order those for them. I make sure a bus is outside [for Soldiers] to get them from point A to point B."
After the Black History Month program, Smalls and chaplain assistant Pvt. D'Angelo Battle shook hands with students and parents before visiting a fourth grade class.