By MC3 Johans Chavarro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det. West, Hawaii
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) commemorated African American History Month with special events, including a luncheon at the Silver Dolphin Bistro and observances hosted by the Hickam African American Heritage Association at both the Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Force Base Memorial Chapel during the month of February.
The national and Department of Defense theme for this year’s observance is “Civil Rights in America,” highlighting the important milestones by African Americans and others in the battle for civil rights and equal treatment under the law.
The observances hosted by the Hickam African American Heritage Association featured guest speakers who spoke about the importance of recognizing and remembering those accomplishments and the efforts to bring together those from different backgrounds.
“Our Navy is more diverse today with the amount of people with different backgrounds that’s coming in, and sometimes you have to think back and ask yourself, ‘Why is that so important?’ ” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Rory Bacon.
“Each of us has a different socialization based upon where you’re from, your religion, your education, which is an enhancer, because when we come together and concentrate on those differences, that helps the mission, that’s what makes us stronger. We are a stronger Navy today because of those differences we have amongst ourselves,” Bacon said.
Service members who attended the luncheon at the Silver Dolphin Bistro were treated to a traditional southern menu and learned about the significance of African American History Month while spending time with service members from other commands.
To Sailors in attendance, the luncheon served as a reminder of the struggle and achievements of ancestors and the people who have made equal rights a reality today.
“Events like these are good because they bring people together,” said Hospital Corpsman Seaman Robert Phillips, stationed at Naval Health Clinic Makalapa, Pearl Harbor.
“Shore commands, sea commands. It’s a good opportunity to gather and not just to honor one day, but to appreciate each other.”
“With me being African American, it’s not just the month of February that means a lot to me. Black history as a whole is important to me,” Sonar Technician Submarine 2nd Class La’ Marcos Rayford stationed with JBPHH Honors and Ceremonies.
“The contributions from the past that people have made to help the future and the present means everything. If it wasn’t for the civil rights movement and movements similar to that, a lot of people in America would not have equal rights and I wouldn’t even be in the military right now. So for me it means a lot,” Rayford said.
According to NAVADMIN 016/14, African American Sailors comprise more than 17 percent of the Navy’s active-duty force, participating in every facet of naval operations. That is nearly 54,500 active-duty Sailors, Reserve Sailors and Navy civilians who contribute to the Navy’s efforts.