Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans.

As a senior leader, I feel that it's vital that we reflect upon all things that make our Army special. Things like diversity, equality and inclusion. Those are just some of the traits that make America's Army the strongest, finest fighting force the world has ever seen. And the contributions of our African American brothers and sisters to that history are legendary and immeasurable, and this month, we celebrate those achievements.

The U.S. Army strongly recognizes and embraces diversity as a way to create a system that maximizes individual talents, increases morale and greatly enhances military effectiveness -- regardless of race, creed or color. We value the honorable service of our more than 103,400 African American Soldiers who continue to make immeasurable contributions and sacrifices to strengthen our Army, meet mission requirements and fight and win the Nation's wars.

Even before we were a nation, it was an African American who helped rally colonists to the cause of freedom. "Be not afraid," an escaped slave named Crispus Attucks cried out to the citizens of Boston as he headed toward a line of British soldiers. When the British opened fired, Attucks became the first casualty of the American Revolution, in what became known as the Boston Massacre.

This month, please join me as we remember honorable African American Soldiers such as the Louisiana Free Men of Color in the War of 1812; the Tenth Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers; the Harlem Hell Fighters and the Black Rattlers of New York's 369th Infantry Regiment; the "Triple Nickels," the "Red Tail Angels" of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the brave drivers of the "Red Ball Express" and the "Black Panthers" of the 761st Tank Battalion.

As we celebrate African American history month, I look to each of you to continue to foster and sustain a culture of fairness and equal opportunity for all.