News>Eielson concludes African American History Month
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Elicia Hodge, 354th Medical Support Squadron administrator, performs an a capella of the Black National Anthem during an African American History Month luncheon Feb. 28, 2014, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The anthem was written by James Weldon Johnson, placing emphasis on the history of African Americans in America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos)
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Ret. William Watson gives a speech during an African American History Month luncheon Feb. 28, 2014, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Watson shared firsthand experiences of adversity throughout his twenty-year Army career. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos)
by Staff Sgt. Jim Araos
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/7/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The National African American History Month committee of Eielson held a luncheon at the Aurora Event Center Feb. 28 to conclude their month-long tribute to National African American History Month.
According to Senior Airman Elicia Hodge, 354th Medical Support Squadron administrator, the goal of the month was to bring everyone together to understand African American culture and deep history.
"The goal of NAAHM was to bring people together to celebrate African American culture, and I felt like we accomplished that," said Hodge.
To commemorate the event, the NAAHM committee coordinated U.S. Army Master Sgt. William Watson, to appear as a guest speaker and reflect on his hardships and accomplishments as an African American in the military.
"When I came into the military, if you were black, your orders clearly stated 'NEG'," said Watson. "We as black people were identified. In other words, before you went into the unit they knew who you were. I grew up in the 1960s when black people lived in a separate world, segregated from their white neighbors."
Watson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1955. His military career spanned twenty years and took him to Fort Bragg, N.C., Widersbach, Germany and Fort Wainwright, Alaska; he retired in 1975. He also served multiple tours in Vietnam. His military decorations include the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.
"Dear people of color, especially black people," stated Watson. "You have been suppressed, beaten, banded, distorted, stolen, lied about, denied and outright destroyed. Our community still has challenges. We must live with preservation and discipline. We must have faith even though things seem dark and in surmount. We must push ourselves to challenge injustice daily. That's the only way progress will be made."
Hodge helped solidify the tribute with an acapella performance of the Black National Anthem. The song represents the history of the African American culture and their struggle against oppression.
NAAHM aims to ensure all Americans are aware of the African American history of struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.