By Spc. Dustin Roberts, 2nd HBCT PAO, 1st Inf. Div., MND-BFebruary 25, 2009
BAGHDAD - When did the foreign slave trade end in the United States' What was the significance of June 19, 1865, known as "Juneteenth'"
Soldiers answered these questions and more in a pop-quiz at the "African-American/Black History Month" observance on Camp Liberty Feb. 22.
The ceremony highlighted successful events in black history and praised the United States for advancing in civil rights since its birth in 1776.
The guest speaker walked the audience through the train of black history, starting with the end of slave trade, the revolutionary and civil wars, the abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement and the election of Barrack Obama, the 44th president of the United States and first black American to be elected.
"I didn't think this would happen in my lifetime," said Maj. Kingston Lampley, a native of Newark, N.J., air advisor to the Iraqi Air Force Air Operations Center and guest speaker at the ceremony. "It literally brought me to tears."
Soldiers read poetry and essays expressing that, over the last 233 years, Americans have come together to raise the standard of equality for all Americans, no matter their culture or race.
"I only see one color here and that's Army green," said Col. Joseph Martin, a native of Dearborn, Mich., commander, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad. "I see men and woman locked in arms, regardless of background, in a victorious fight against a ruthless enemy that threatens Iraq and the American way of life."
Martin continued to say that he was proud of every Soldier because they stepped up to the plate when their nation needed them most.
"We all live, work and win together as an Army team," he said. "We will never let prejudice or discrimination rip us apart; for diversity is the oil that keeps our machine running."
Members of the Warrior Chapel Choir sang two songs important to black history during the event.
The first, written by James Weldon Johnson as a poem in the early 1900s, is called "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and is heralded as the black national anthem.
The second melody, "Amazing Grace," is a popular southern hymn, originally written by Englishman John Newton around the time of the Revolutionary War.
In addition to the singing, Maj. Bryce Pringle, a native of Albany, Ga., executive officer, 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd HBCT, read an essay about a black man living through 45 years of racial change, called, "Living the Dream."
"It asks if we are really living the dream Dr. Martin Luther King talked about," he said. "We are united and equal as a nation and I am proud and humbled to read this."
As the train of American progress continues forward in the United States, the Middle East and abroad, Lampley dared the audience to continue to serve their country in everything they do.
"Through our journey, individual Americans have been the reason for our progress and individual Americans will continue our progress," Lampley said to the group. "I want to challenge each and every one of you, even myself, to look forward to the future and keep the train of progress moving."
The answers to this article's original questions are: America's participation in foreign slave trade was outlawed in 1808 and on June 19, 1865, also known as "Juneteenth," Union Soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were free.