Fort Belvoir Celebrates Black History Month

By Jason ShepherdFebruary 26, 2024

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Every February, Fort Belvoir joins the Nation to celebrate the contributions, achievements, and sacrifices of African Americans during Black History Month.

That celebration continued Feb. 22, as the various units of the installation came together for a Black History Month Observance at the Fort Belvoir Community Center. This year’s theme was African Americans and the Arts, and special guest speaker Rev. (Dr.) Steven Bufford touched on that theme during his remarks to the over 150 people in attendance.

“The ongoing efforts of everyday African Americans continue to work to make a positive impact on the world,” he said, “and has given me peace of mind that this world is a much better place.”

Bufford, a retired Marine, local business owner, and associate minister at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Triangle, Va., also shared the story of Marine Pfc. James Anderson Jr., the first African American Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.  Anderson posthumously received the Medal for his heroism while serving in Vietnam in February of 1967, jumping on a grenade to save his fellow Marines.

“Without hesitation, Pfc. Anderson gave his life for his country,” Bufford said.  “Obedience, sacrifice, service, dedication, and discipline is what he was about. We can all be inspired by him. Make a change and inspire someone else.”

Fort Belvoir observed Black History Month at the Community Center, Feb. 22, with guest speaker Rev. (Dr.). steven Bufford, a retired Marine and business owner.
Fort Belvoir observed Black History Month at the Community Center, Feb. 22, with guest speaker Rev. (Dr.). steven Bufford, a retired Marine and business owner. (Photo Credit: Paul Lara) VIEW ORIGINAL

Charice Smith, Industrial Hygienist with the Fort Belvoir Installation Safety Office, said that Anderson’s story really resonated with her.

“Dr. Bufford honoring Pfc. Anderson through his story made me understand how much impact that young Marine had on his life and how other lives would not be the same if it wasn't for his sacrifice,” she added.

After the event, attendees walked around the Community Center to view the displays of African American art and culture provided by the Fort Belvoir Library and sample food from Oohh’s and Aahh’s Café, a local DC establishment.

Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, Col. Joe Messina, hosted the event and thanked Bufford for his thoughts and words of encouragement with a plaque.

“I want to say thank you, Dr. Bufford, for personalizing what this month and what every day should be about,” he said, “the association with culture and the arts and personalizing that with your stories and anecdotes. That really brings (your message) home and makes it that much stronger.”

Messina added that the U.S. military has long been the leader when it comes to diversity, change and inclusion and is proud to be a part of an organization where that is celebrated.

“Seeing everyone here, seeing the diversity in this room, seeing the diversity on the staff of the garrison, is really what today is about,” he said.  “It's about the brothers and sisters that we serve with in uniform, our civilian family, and our contractors; all of us working together for a better future.”