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01 March 2022

From Anna Marie G. General, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Service members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians participated in an annual Black History Month observance at the Pearl Harbor Memorial chapel onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 23.
Service members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians participated in an annual Black History Month observance at the Pearl Harbor Memorial chapel onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 23.

“Black Health and Wellness” was the theme for the Navy Region Hawaii Multicultural Committee’s observance of Black History month, which highlighted the history and achievements of African Americans, and the positive impact they have made throughout U.S. history.

In delivering his open remarks, Rear Adm. Timothy Kott, commander, Navy Region Hawaii, reflected on the importance of diversity within the Armed Forces.

“As a military, we should be proud of our diversity,” said Kott. “It makes us unique in nature and solidifies our lethality as a Department of Defense.”

Celebration of the importance of black history was first established in 1926 during the second week of February. President Gerald Ford expanded this observance to include the entire month of February in 1976.

During the observance, guest speaker Alphonso Braggs, a member of the Honolulu Hawaii chapter of the NAACP, shared stories about the journey of notable Americans who instilled positive change and commitment such as Thurgood Marshall, Daisy Bates, Phillip Randolph, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few.

As Braggs emphasized on commitment, he spoke about an example made by Navy Petty Officer Doris Miller, who bravely performed beyond the call of duty aboard USS West Virginia (BB 48) during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

“Doris Miller was relegated to being just a cook, yet when called upon to demonstrate what commitment meant to him, he did not hesitate,” said Braggs. “He did not consider the rank or color of skin, he rendered aid to his commanding officer, broke protocol by manning the guns and allegedly shooting down an enemy plane. He was committed to a more noble purpose.”

As Miller’s life and other notable individuals are reflected as a legacy of commitment, Braggs said that commitment has no regard for race, color, gender preference or age.

“I offer that these individuals didn’t originate this condition of commitment, rather it was passed down through generations,” he said. “The ancestors instilled in them a belief that they passed on and today we stand on their shoulders.”

Concluding the event, a cake-cutting ceremony took place to celebrate the significant role that African Americans, both past and present, have played in defense of our nation.

“Within the Department of the Navy, African Americans have served in ground and aviation combat units, aboard U.S. Navy ships and submarines, in diplomatic missions, and in many other critical positions supporting organizations around the world,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in an ALNAV message (ALNAV 007/22) released on Feb. 22. “Their contributions and sacrifice to our nation are not just a part of African American history, but American history.”

The ALNAV message also stated that more than 114,000 members of the DON’s total force identify as African American/Black American. The DON strives to create inclusive, accessible, and an equitable environment for all employees. We are committed to attracting, developing, and advancing a highly talented and diverse workforce capable of meeting our many requirements. A diverse range of experiences, abilities and perspectives is critical to the DON’s mission and operational preparedness.

(Interesting fact: Did you know? The month of February was chosen for Black History Month because it is the birth month of Frederick Douglas, an abolitionist and social reformer, and President Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery.)

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