CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — Members of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), gathered at the Contingency Operating Location Q-West Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, Feb. 15, to celebrate African American heritage.
The event was hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms and carried the theme, "Through the struggles, still I rise."
The celebration featured the reading of President Barack Obama's proclamation by Sgt. Ralph Johnson.
"The history of African Americans is unique and rich, and one that has helped define what it means to be an American," Johnson read. "The history is one of struggle for the recognition of each person's humanity as well as an influence on the broader American culture.
"We should take note of this special moment in our nation's history and the actors who worked so diligently to deliver us to this place," Johnson read.
The guest speaker was Maj. Vic Herbin, the personnel officer for the 15th Sust. Bde. and San Diego, native.
In middle school, 20 years ago, Herbin said the teacher was discussing African American history month, and being the only African American student in the class, all his classmates looked to him.
"I instantly felt I was the spokesperson for the African American community," Herbin said. "I was still trying to figure out how to be a 13-year-old teenager, let alone know the contributions made in African American history."
During his speech, Herbin dispelled some of the myths or rumors surrounding African American month — specifically why it was the shortest and coldest month of the year.
In 1926, Carter Woodson created "Negro history week," which was the second week in February and coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Eventually, the week was expanded to cover the entire month, Herbin said.
Through perseverance, vision and courage, all people can rise above struggles in their lives, Herbin said.
"It is our perseverance that will ensure our place in history as strong leaders and American contributors," he said.
"We are now responsible for the chapters written in American history," Herbin said. "As the historians draft the outline for the books that chronicle our generation, it will be evident that the perseverance, vision and courage displayed will reflect that of the great African Americans that preceded us. We now must accept the baton on the marathon of life and lead our nation to its proper place in the world."