FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq — According to the Congressional Law Library, black history has been celebrated by the United States annually since 1926. It was originally known as "Negro History Week." In 1976 President Gerald Ford became the first president to issue a message on the Observance of Black History Month for the month of February.
In keeping with that tradition the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry, 1st Brigade 1st Armored Division (Ready First) hosted a black history celebration at FOB Marez, Mosul, Iraq, Feb 26.
The ceremony was held at the Marez Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center where the walls were lined with various stands containing African American art work and photographs.
The Economic Empowerment and Contributions of African Americans were the focus and theme of the night's events. The night contained various events and talents honoring African American history.
Spc. Markim Vann of the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, performed a form of dancing known as "Stepping".
I started dancing in elementary school and by the time I was a junior in high school I became Step Master, said Vann from Baxley, Ga. "This is a major event for us ... it is a great opportunity for people to see a different side of our culture" Vann stated.
Later in the evening a choir, adorned in colorful clothing, took the stage sang traditional African songs.
"We were all excited about the opportunity to sing and share", said Penninnah Kemirembe a Dining Facility employee from Uganda.
Ronald Nsubugra, a security specialist with the EOD Technologies Inc., recited a poem he had written about the journey of black people.
"I saw a poster about black history month and I wanted to participate", said Mr. Nsubugra, a native from Kampala, Uganda.
It felt great to perform the poem live, it was like a dream, said Nsuburger.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, was the guest speaker for the event. His speech focused on the key contributions of various African Americans.
"Great eye opening experience", said Alonzo Brown a communication and electronics specialist who is retired from the Army Signal Corps. "We take so much for granted."
"We always talk about Martin Luther King, who was a great man, but there were so many before him that helped pave the way," said Brown from Reiglewood, N.C.
After the ceremony was concluded a meal was served with traditional "soul" food.