FORT STEWART, GA -- The Marne Division reflected on the accomplishments African-Americans in February with events that included poetry reading, a culinary competition, and culminated with a Black History observance ceremony Feb. 24 at the Main Post Chapel on Fort Stewart.

Fort Stewart
Fort Stewart's Black History Month celebrations culminated with its Black History Month Program at Club Stewart Feb. 24. The program included songs, dances and poetry celebrating African American history and culture.

In the lobbies and hallways leading to the main stage for the program were posters depicting African American heritage and the students from Taylor Creek Elementary performed a real life "wax museum" for passers-by depicting such historical figures as Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman and John F. Kennedy.

Starting off the program were the winners of the poetry contest from earlier in the month, followed by songs performed by guests including the Taylor Creek Elementary student chorus. Rounding out the entertainment was the Bradwell Institute treating the audience to popular dances throughout the ages.

The program's guest speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, United States Central Command's command sergeant major. Hill reminded the audience that being first in something isn't necessarily a good thing. He also told of the importance of always striving to be the best that you can be.

"There were a lot of firsts," said Hill, "but I bet they would trade it all in to be the best."
The program finished by providing guests an opportunity to taste foods that were eaten by African-Americans in the days of slavery.

Fort Benning
On Fort Benning, Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, took time Feb. 19 to celebrate African-American History Month during a luncheon at the Kelley Hill Dining Facility.

Ellis Dandy, the Equal Employment manager for the United States Army Infantry Center, was the featured guest speaker at the event; which followed traditional "soul food" banquet prepared by the Soldiers of the Kelley Hill DFAC. Fried catfish, barbecued ribs and chicken, ham hocks, red beans and rice and ox tails were just a few of the many entrees available for the Soldiers' dining pleasure.

"The food is good," said Sgt. Israel Clarke, an information systems analyst for the 3rd HBCT. "I knew the Soldiers that work here in the DFAC put a lot of effort into this meal, so I came down to support them."
Dandy, who served as an Army Military Equal Opportunity specialist from 1972 until his retirement in 1986, explained how he has seen the Army's race relations improve dramatically since he first joined the Army in 1960.

"The Army has come a long way," he said. "I think that as time has gone on we have discovered that by learning more about one another, we have figured out that we really aren't so different. As a result, I think our Army is stronger."

Dandy, who was serving as a race relations instructor in Worms, Germany when the Army celebrated African-American History Month for the first time in 1972, remembers when the Army forced Soldiers to start learning more about the Soldiers that looked different than themselves.

"The Army changed and started doing things it had never done before," he said. "At the time, it was easy to shake each other's hand and pat each other on the back, but we needed to go deeper... What we found is that when you are in a unit together, what somebody looks like goes out the window. A Soldier is a Soldier. When you're in combat together, all you have is one another."

The Black History celebration continued Feb. 19 at Fort Stewart with a poetry reading at Rocky's sponsored by Soldiers from the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.