Story Number: NNS140214-16Release Date: 2/14/2014 1:02:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Everett
EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Naval Station Everett (NSE) gathered to observe National African American History Month during a ceremony in the Grand Vista Ballroom, Feb. 13.
The event included a guest speaker, multimedia slide show, a static display, and the singing of an African American hymn. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor the impact African Americans have made on our Navy and country.
"We are all community, we all must live to together, we must work together," said Ozell Jackson Jr., the guest speaker at the event. "In the military, I can take it a step further. We must fight together, we must die together."
A Vietnam veteran, Jackson retired from the Navy after 21 years. In his speech, he told Sailors about his experience as an African American during his years as a Sailor and during the civil rights movement.
A large part of the ceremony was dedicated to history, outlining important African American figures who played vital roles in both American and U.S. naval history.
"This is important, because you cannot move forward until you are able to see where you've come from," said Jackson. "You got to look back to the past and then look to the future."
Black Americans have been a part of America's fighting forces since the Revolutionary War. Today, more than 17 percent of the Navy's active duty Sailors are African American. To date, 87 African Americans have received the Medal of Honor.
Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Demetrius Allen, a native of Orlando, Fla., said this incredible history is a legacy worth sharing and treasuring.
"Black History is American History," said Allen. "African American Sailors have a legacy of honorable service."
In 1976, the United States government officially recognized February as National Black History Month, highlighting the achievements and impact of African Americans on American history.
Today, the Navy also honors the month, commemorating the legacy of African American Sailors and promoting the importance of diversity in the Navy at the same time.
"Diversity is one of the greatest aspects of our country," said Allen. "I think that is very important for the Navy in general."
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 their fellow Sailors appreciate their shipmates' diverse cultural backgrounds and heritage.