Friday, February 13, 2009

Commentary>>What Black History Month means to me

By Senior Airman Dennis Gardner
19th Services Squadron Base Honor Guard assistant manager

When we limit our ways of thinking, we also limit what options and opportunities we have. People of all races and ethnic back grounds should always strive to learn more about those who are different from them and the month of February gives us that opportunity.

February is designated Black History Month. It is important to observe this month and recognize the achievements and contributions of African Americans to American society.

History is what makes us who we are and it reminds us of where we come from. Black History Month not only illuminates the accomplishments of blacks, it illuminates the fact that we all can accomplish great things despite our circumstances.

We should celebrate the invention of the gas mask by Garrett Morgan, which was initially made to provide clean air for firefighters and coal miners. Today, we are fighting a War on Terrorism and the gas mask is critical to our survival while deployed. Garrett Morganís invention laid the groundwork for the gas mask we use and for that it is a part of history and important to acknowledge.

Our remembrance of those who have fought for the equality, freedom and justice for all people, is a way to show appreciation for the doors they have opened. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation and less than 45 years later we witnessed history with the election of our first Black U.S. President.

Our future is symbolizing change and for those of us in uniform, we should reflect on our military progression and remember the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen and times when we defended the nation in segregated combat. We are now united and depend on one another for support within our military services both at our duty stations and deployed environments.

It is important for us to understand, appreciate and remember those trailblazers who set the standards for achieving equality and overcoming diversity. For that I am proud to celebrate and embrace my heritage.


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