Sgt. Johnathon Jobson
Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq —Task Force Marne Soldiers gathered at the division headquarters, Feb. 19, to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing their contributions across history. The theme of the ceremony was "The History of Black Economic Empowerment."
Soldiers attending the ceremony were treated to readings and songs written by popular African-American performers, and a history lesson on famous entrepreneurs like Barry Gordy, the founder of Motown, Clarence Otis, chief executive officer of Darden restaurants and Kathy Hughes, the owner of Radio One, the largest African-American owned radio chain in the U.S.
"The passage of time we have made in a democracy, for equality and justice is a story that we have to tell over and over again because I am not sure they are being told outside the military," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commander of TF Marne and the 3rd Infantry Division.
Spc. Bradley Bynum, who is part of the TF Marne G6 server team, and Sgt. Curtis Whittaker, a financial management technician with the 82nd Financial Management Company, performed a mime routine to a stirring gospel song.
"It means a lot to me that I can participate in these programs and that I was asked to participate," expressed Spc. Bynum. I feel honored that I was able to contribute and I think it's great that we can honor African-Americans and their contributions to the Unites States and the world."
Following a speech about Barry Gordy, Jr., one of the pioneers of "Motown" music, a few of his songs that were originally sung by Stevie Wonder were performed for the audience.
After an uproarious applause, the speakers and performers from the ceremony gathered with Maj. Gen. Cucolo and Command Sgt. Major Jesse Andrews, the TF Marne command sergeant major, for a cake cutting to end the ceremony.
The remembrance activities did not end there. Soldiers from many of the units stationed at Contingency Operating Base Speicher gathered the next morning for a 5 kilometer fun-run, to round out the observance.
"Every time we have one of these observances, I look around and I say to myself, 'I am proud to be in this Army and we are going to be all right,' because we pause to take the time to do this and remind ourselves the power of diversity and the diversity of our formation," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said.