By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffry Willadsen, NPASE Det Northwest
EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) – Sailors assigned to Naval Station Everett (NSE) celebrated National African-American History Month during a ceremony in the Grand Vista Ballroom on NSE, Feb. 13.
The ceremony, meant to recognize the impact African-Americans have had on our Navy and country, included a guest speaker, multimedia presentations, a poetry reading and a static display on black history.
“Events like Black History Month are very important. They allow us to understand more about the proud traditions and cultures of our shipmates,” said Chief Operations Specialist Dacia Cooley, a native of Fargo, N.D., who acted as the master of ceremonies during the event. “They also remind us that even though we have diverse backgrounds, we are all part of what makes the Navy stronger.”
The guest speaker at the event was Raymond Miller, the former Vice President of the Snohomish County branch chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“Let’s not forget our history,” said Miller. “People who don’t know their history are prone to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Miller, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran and clinical therapist for the Treatment, Housing, Resources and Intervention for Veterans Empowerment (THRIVE) Program, has a great appreciation for the progress, over time, that the military has helped to stimulate when it comes to race relations in America.
“[The military] has been one of the most progressive arms of American society, ” said Miller. “You have people of different races and different genders in the leadership positions … you can become whatever you want in the military.”
A large part of the ceremony was dedicated to black history, outlining important African-American figures who played vital roles in both American and U.S. naval history.
“We want help people to remember how far we have come as a nation and a Navy,” said Cooley. “Remembering our history helps us to set the course for our future.”
In 1976, the United States government officially recognized February as National Black History Month. The purpose of the month is to highlight the achievements of African-Americans and the profound positive impact they have had on American History.
Today, the Navy observes the month by honoring the legacy of African American Sailors and promoting the importance of diversity in the Navy at the same time.
“Diversity is incredibly important to the Navy,” said Cooley, who is also the leader of NSE’s Multicultural Heritage Committee. “Sailors come from a wealth of different cultures and backgrounds, and each one is part of what makes the Navy a strong and efficient fighting force. That is the message we want to spread as a multi-cultural committee.”
NSE’s Multicultural Committee is dedicated to spreading the message of cultural acceptance and diversity in the Navy. The committee regularly puts on events, such as the African-American History Month ceremony, in order to help fellow Sailors appreciate their shipmates’ diverse cultural backgrounds and heritage.