By Cpl. Jung Han Soh (Daegu)March 13, 2017
African American/Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of black Americans in U.S. history.
On February 28, the 498th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion celebrates 2017 African American/Black History Month at the Camp Carroll Community Activity Center.
498th CSSB Commander Lt. Col. Rizaldo Salvador gave remarks reflecting on the essence of Black History Month.
"We reflect now on our history. We follow the footsteps of those that came before us those African Americans who have proudly served such as the Buffalo Soldiers and the Golden Thirteen," said Salvador. "Throughout our nation's history, African men and women have overcome challenges and adversities in the pursuit of achievement. And as they have made achievements, they have provided a path of success. Booker T. Washington stated "Success always leaves footprints." It is the footprints of these valiant African Americans that bear unimpeachable proof African Americans were always there at each defining moment of our history. We draw strength from these achievements as we are immersed in a nation of diversity which makes one more socially aware and responsible to humbly warm other who are different."
There was a special guest speaker from United States Naval Forces Korea. Capt. Glen S. Leverette Jr., Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, talked to the audience about what African American History Month is about and what should we do about it.
"The idea that based on who you are, where are you come from, how you are raised, what is your culturalism, what you look like that you are somehow inferior to someone from different culture, different background and different make-up, to think that way is racist," said Leverette. "To bring it to work and put it in practice is racism. That is the enemy. And in my world, the enemy really should reside outside the lifelines and not inside the lifelines."
Soldiers from 498th CSSB, 339th Quartermaster Company and 551st Inland Cargo Transfer Company volunteered for today's observance to recognize and applaud the contributions and dedications what the African Americans had achieved throughout the America's history.
Pvt. Raymond Maldonado, 339th Quartermaster Company from Camp Humphreys is one of many Soldiers who role-played during the today's observance. He played as Peter Salem who is an African American from Massachusetts who served as a soldier in the American Revolutionary War. He was enlisted in the Continental Army, serving for nearly five years during the war.
He talked about the today's observance and role-playing.
"I volunteered for the role play. We did this for whole month. We did rehearsal for four times. We came all the way down from Camp Humphreys to do this," said Maldonado. "It was good. It was a lot of stuff that got changed up a lot because we had different leaders coming here and they told us good things. In the end, we handled really well and just followed the script. It was smooth. It was nothing like that you could do."
Salvador also highlighted the importance of looking beyond the differences between each other.
"Differences should never separate people but motivate us to weave our individual thread into our nation's social fabric," said Salvador. "Being a nation of diversity brings texture to the fabric of our national identity. We must always look beyond our differences and rise the sea, the beauty of this Mosaic. African American valued service to our nation has enabled the entire U.S. military to feel stronger, more diverse force defined by the highest character and courage. Today, our African American military and civilian members look into leave their footprints of success as a legacy for others to follow. So let us begin now to reflect, observe, and celebrate."
Leverette also emphasized the importance to keep the diversity in every aspects.
"We should strive to celebrate diversity in all of its forms and all of its excellence every month," said Leverette. "It's always our desire to drive this celebration to obsolescence not because of the reason why we have it but because we live the objective daily and it's no longer required. I think each and every one of you has taken a step by coming out and taking time out of your work day."
The event grew out of "Negro History Week," the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black History Month.