Diversity made a strong showing at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Black History Month Celebration Feb. 17 at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center on Daenner Kaserne.
“Best Army in the world, and our one key strength is diversity,” said Maj. Gen. Byron Bagby, U.S. Army Europe chief of staff. “Today, our Army is strong because we leverage and draw strength from the rich diversity within our ranks.”
During his speech, Pfc. Tanikia Washington, 257th Air Missile Defense Detachment on Rhine Ordnance Barracks, looked around the room.
“I saw a lot of people from different ethnic backgrounds. I saw Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and civilians,” Private First Class Washington said.
General Bagby said he related to the 2009 Black History theme “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas” by talking about Crispus Attucks, a black man, who became the first casualty of the American Revolution.
He was shot and killed in 1770 in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
Other historical figures, such as Buffalo Soldiers, Tuskegee Airmen and the Little Rock Nine, were laced into General Bagby’s speech, some crossing over into personal accounts and all relating to strength in diversity.
Several members of the Tuskegee Airmen and Little Rock Nine were guests at
Black History Month Observances while General Bagby was the commander of the Division Artillery of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Fort Campbell, Ky., from 1997 to 1999.
“Diversity is about teamwork and many people with different backgrounds, specialties and ethnic groups coming together for a common cause to defend our nation,” said General Bagby on why he chose that theme for his speech, “That, to me, is a strength that we should keep on leveraging.”
Music at the event was provided by the Vogelweh Gospel Choir and The Band, a group of local military and civilian community members who play instruments or sing during their off-duty hours.
“We just formed for today’s event,” said Kali Holman, one of the singers of The Band, and whose daytime job is at the garrison’s pass and identification office on Kleber Kaserne.
The band’s rendition of the Negro National Anthem at the start of the program received high praise from General Bagby.
“Of all the times I’ve heard the Negro National Anthem performed in the past, this was best rendition I’ve heard,” General Bagby said.
The Band closed out the event with “Where is the Love” by the Black
“ … it got everyone bobbing their heads and tapping their feet,” Private First Class Washington said.
Food sampling of collard greens, black-eyed peas and banana pudding were provided at the free event. Books and artwork were on display courtesy of the garrison’s libraries and a local vendor.
The next national observance is Women’s History Month in March and will be hosted by the 21st Theater Sustainment Command.