As we embark upon this month set aside to commemorate Black History, I felt this to be a perfect time and place to pay tribute to Black servicemen and women and their contributions toward the success of our country and the freedoms we enjoy. As enslaved Africans, free African Americans and even runaway slaves, this group of people participated in every war fought by and within these United States of America.
Whether in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, American Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, or any smaller battle in between, men and women of color were there on frontlines, in trenches, in the skies, on ships, and in offices. May we forever be grateful for that.
In addition to the already unbearable conditions of war itself, our people have been forced to fight a battle of a different kind within the ranks: Racism, discrimination, segregation, and exclusion. All this negativity serves to make us stronger and even more proud of the courage, fortitude and tenacity each and every soldier bore down through history, as they donned their uniform. Be it ever so true today, as well.
In the spirit of First Lt. Vernon J. Baker, who demonstrated extraordinary heroism during World War II, but didn’t receive a Medal of Honor until 50 years later due to racism, let us stand firmly on the shoulders of brave ancestors like him as we successfully achieve our own monumental tasks. Not waiting on distinctions, honors and praise, may we forge full force ahead with excellence in all we do.
Yours, proud to have served,
Bill “Clark” Kent, CEO
Lt. Col (Ret), USAF