JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Brooke Army Medical Center held a Black History Month event Feb. 22 to highlight the contributions of African Americans in times of war, which was the theme of this year’s celebration.
Army Col. Traci Crawford, BAMC deputy commanding officer, opened the ceremony by discussing the origin of Black History Month and spotlighting Army 2nd Lt. Emily Perez, who was a prominent figure on this year’s poster.
At the age of 23, Perez was the first female graduate of West Point to die in the Iraq War. She was killed Sept. 12, 2006, when a roadside bomb exploded as she led her platoon on a convoy south of Baghdad.
Army Col. Derrick Flowers, U.S. Army Medical Command assistant deputy chief of staff for resource management, was the guest speaker for the event.
“I am extremely grateful for the sacrifices and contributions that our African-American military forefathers made and recognize that I would not be here today if it were not for their efforts,” he said.
Flowers emphasized the contributions of African-Americans throughout military history, beginning with the Colonial and Revolutionary Wars through the ongoing conflicts today.
“The military has often stood as a pioneer of American social change, promoting integration within its ranks before society at large was able to enact such changes,” Flowers said.
He touched on several African American heroes, including the Buffalo Soldiers and Seminole Indian Scouts, who were of African descent, who fought during the Indian and Spanish American wars; and the Tuskegee Airman who never lost a bomber and the 761st Tank Battalion which fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
“Integration of the military was a slow process,” Flowers said, noting that segregation in the United States military did not end until President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in July 1948.
“Our military is the strength of this Nation and diversity is a major strength of our military,” he said.
“We must think of diversity as a force multiplier,” Flowers said. “Advancing the military’s diversity and inclusive efforts will not only allow us to continue to be the leader for social change within this nation, but also will sustain our military as a relevant and ready force.”
The event also included performances by the Robert G. Cole Middle School Choir and Bramaya dance and drum troupe who entertained the audience with traditional West African music and dance.