RED CLOUD GARRISON - Barack Obama, President of the United States of America signed the Official Proclamation Reading of African History Month February 2, 2009. As Master Sgt. Kelley McKnight-Crosby, G-2 intelligence office, 2nd Infantry Division, read the proclamation again, Soldiers, Civilians, and Family members erupted in applause marking the beginning of the African American History Month Observance at the Feb. 19 2nd Infantry Divisions Commanding General's Mess.

"The belief that those dreams might one day be realized by all of our citizens gave African American men and women the same sense of duty and love of country that led them to shed blood in every war we have ever fought, to invest hard-earned resources in their communities with the hope of self empowerment, and to pass the ideals of this great land down to their children and grandchildren," McKnight-Crosby read from the proclamation.

The theme of the event was "The History of Black Americans, Economic Employment," written by the Soldiers and leaders working in the 2ID Equal Opportunities office.

The overall recurring topic was paying tribute to the success and struggles African Americans have overcame not only in the Military but in the American Society. Command Sgt. Maj. Yolanda Lomax, 70th Brigade Support Battalion, 210th Fires Brigade 2ID, read a poem she wrote titled "I am History," explaining to the audience prior to the reading that she was inspired to write the poem because "history begins and ends with each and every one of us."

In the middle of Lomax's poem Soldiers and Family members in attendance began to smile listening to the words of the command sergeant major.

"I am the March of Freedom; apartheid in South Africa; the civil rights movement; boycotts and sit-ins in Alabama. I am Brown v. The Board of Education; forbidden to read and write; whipped for wanting to be treated equal; denied voting rights; I am History. I am bebop and soul; Sunday's Gospel; Monday's Blues."

"I came out today to observe and to honor Black History Month," said Warrant Officer Katina Horne, A Company Division Special Troops Battalion, 2ID Information Assurance security officer. "What I enjoyed the most from the observance was Command Sgt. Maj. Lomax. I loved the poem Lomax read because of all the memories it brought back to me."

The CG's Mess provided a special lunch for the event with a spread of ham hocks, southern fried chicken, cauliflower, potato salad, and other dishes created and well known within the African American community courtesy of the 2ID EO office.

During the entire month of February the CG's Mess provides a different dish each week to commemorate African American/Black History Month said Sgt. 1st Class CrystalRenee Saunders, Dining Facility Manager.Following Lomax's poem Spc. Carla Rance, 2ID Band vocalist, sang "America the Beautiful," and "Over the Rainbow," accompanied by Sgt. Maj. Christopher Pritchard, A Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 2ID, on his clarinet. Earlier in the observance Rance and Pritchard also performed their interpretation of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Warrant Officer Marcus Flewellen, master of ceremonies for the observance, introduced the guest speaker of the event, retired 1st Sgt. Freddie Walker, Area 1 Network Enterprise Center chief.
Walker spoke of his personal experience while in the Army, and told everyone how proud he was to have been able to see the changes the Army has made. Looking at Tucker and the command group sitting at the head table, Walker smiled and explained to everyone in attendance how tremendous that is for African Americans. When Walker joined the Army in 1975, the Army was segregated and many Caucasian's admitted they had never worked with an African American before. Two years later, Walker befriended Patrick Conley, a Caucasian, which was a life changing experience for him.

"I learned he was not different from any of us," Walker said. "I came to know that Patrick was more like me; there was a portion of doubt because of his race, but Patrick was just the same as me."

"I wanted everyone to gain two things from my speech: that African Americans do contribute to the growth of our nation, and for people to come blind when it comes to color."

"I think it is so befitting that President Obama has been elected as our president," said Maj. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, 2ID commanding general. "It is such a wonderful thing for our country, and such a wonderful thing for our world. I appreciate top (Walker) coming out here and talking today."