The 14th Military Police Brigade and the installation's Equal Opportunity Office hosted an observance and luncheon to celebrate the legacy of African Americans in history with special performers and a guest speaker Friday. This year's theme was "African Americans in the time of War."

Lt. Col. Alfred Boone, 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion commander, served as guest speaker for the program.

"I am here because you were there," Boone said as he addressed the large audience at Pershing Community Center. "We must never forget or overlook the service and sacrifice of those African Americans and veterans of our nation who wore this uniform and put their lives on the line in a time of war."

Boone emphasized the importance of remembering African Americans who fought since the Revolutionary War for the love of their country, even when times were not so forgiving.

"These ordinary Americans made extraordinary decisions to wear the uniform of the United States military and put their lives on the line, even when they were doing so for a country who did not respect them at the time simply because of their race," Boone said.

Historically, African Americans have served in every war in American history.

"Our history books spell out recognizable units who have served African Americans where they originated from." Boone said, mentioning organizations such as the Army's 10th Calvary Regiment whose ranks were lined with Buffalo Soldiers, who served in the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II.

"All black Ranger units, all black Airborne units, I am here because you were there," he said.

Following Boone's speech, Col. Curtis Schroeder, 14th Military Police Brigade commander, presented him with a token of appreciation.

The event also included vocal performances by the Waynesville High School Choir and instrumental music from the 399th Army Band.