By Sgt. Ashley M. OutlerFebruary 21, 2012
LAKEWOOD, Wash.--A crowd glittering with a diversity of age, race and occupation filled the auditorium as history unraveled in stories, melodies and dance.
Service members of past and present, politicians, firemen and other community members gathered Feb. 14 to watch performances in recognition of Black History Month at Tyee Park Elementary school in Lakewood, Wash.
"The theme of our program is 'each of us has a light' and that light is love," said Tracey Lundquist, a music and literature teacher at Tyee Park Elementary School. "It's about diversity and recognizing our differences and celebrating them and having the core of our heart be love. How appropriate it is for the program to be on Valentine's Day."
The program, led by Lundquist and the 5th grade choir, was dedicated to Tuskegee Airmen Ed Drummond, George Hickman, George Miller and Tommie Lamb who represented living history of African American culture.
"We have some great people here today that helped us preserve this country and to promote diversity," said Wash. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen during his speech at the event. "The Tuskegee Airmen fought greatly for our country during World War II. When they first started they were not widely respected because of their color and that is a shame. They had to prove themselves in combat, which they did over and over again and ended up being highly acclaimed for their heroism and extraordinary service."
The students at Tyee Elementary School were given a solid foundation of historical knowledge about the Airmen prior to their visit and were very eager to meet them, said Lundquist.
"It just makes it real for the kids when we have the actual history come in and talk to them. They come in and they tell their personal accounts and it solidifies all the history that I teach them. They are seeing the last of the greatest generation, they get to be a part of it," she said.
The students sang African folk songs, classic spirituals and hymns with culturally rich lyrics promoting acceptance, freedom and compassion.
"The kids get so passionate about the events and the programs because of the history," said Lundquist. "If there is meaning behind the words that they are singing you can see it in their faces, you can see it in the way they perform."
Service members, veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors decorated in their dress uniforms were among guests honored in the presentation.
"The military today, just like your school, just like our communities, is made up of people of all races who served side-by-side with honor and pride. We owe them the upmost respect. For what they did was make sure that we have a country that appreciates all the beauty, all the diversity that I see in this room today," said Owen as the large crowd burst into a thunderous applause.