JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers grabbing lunch at the Cannon and Castle Grill, a dining facility on North Fort Lewis, were treated to live music, poetry and a number of guest speakers during an event celebrating Black History Month, Feb. 21.
“Usually events like these are held in bigger forums, but my main concern is that those soldiers in the barracks aren’t able to get out to those events,” said Warrant Officer Philip D. Saunders, command food adviser for the 17th Fires Brigade. “I wanted to give them one right here so they could have the opportunity to experience the events themselves. They got a good meal and they got a good show.”
Pvt. Matthew R. Paddock, a cavalry scout with Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, who had a front row seat for the festivities, said he was impressed with the entertainment.
“They knocked it out of the park,” he said. “The music was my favorite part.”
Paddock said he also enjoyed learning about the cultural aspect to Black History Month and that he thought it was important to learn about other cultures.
“I think the more you know about history and the different cultural backgrounds the easier it is to co-exist,” he said. “As a soldier we have to be prepared to go anywhere, so knowing more about other cultures and their history is always a plus.”
Paddock added that he thinks events like these also allow soldiers to widen their understanding of other cultures and history while opening up people to new experiences.
“When you look at other people and cultures it kind of makes you wonder if there’s something there you missed that isn’t right on the surface,” said Paddock. “Events like these can always spark something that makes you want to dig a little deeper.”
Saunders said encouraging soldiers to explore other cultures was a big reason he wanted to host the event.
“I want the soldiers who watched this event to be inspired to branch out and start asking those right questions and maybe they can spread the word about these observations and take it with them wherever they go,” he said.
Saunders said he wants to continue holding events for each monthly observance and is already planning an event for Women’s History Month in March.