Black history: Military service tradition continues

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kevin McWashington
  • 301st Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Teacher, historian and author Carter G. Woodson proposed in 1915 a time to celebrate nationwide Negro History Week. His proposal later became Black History Month, celebrated every February.

One purpose of Black History Month is to recognize past events that affect us today.

Looking through the window of history, there are several milestones in our nation's evolution that resonate in the depths of our culture. Some events receive great attention. Others are more subtle, receiving little fanfare, yet they are just as important in shaping and molding this country we love and serve.

War Department General Order No. 143 is one of those less-remembered but important events. Issued on May 22, 1863, the order established the Bureau of Colored Troops.

In his article, First to Fight, author John Raymond Gourdin wrote, "Prior to the establishment of the Bureau, colored regiments were organized and supported by state governments in free states and in areas in Confederate states occupied and controlled by Federal troops. However, after the establishment of the Bureau, those regiments that were previously raised by state governments and carried state designations were redesignated as regiments of United States Colored Troops and assigned a USCT number."

Although no longer considered colored, Americans of African descent continue to agree with the fundamentals and principles established by General Order 143. Accepting the opportunity to serve, defending the borders we dwell within and upholding the integrity of law permeate through those of us who continue the tradition of military service to this great nation today.

February is not only a time to reflect, but more importantly, a time of growth. By understanding the struggles and progress made by our predecessors, we are obliged to follow their lead and improve our country. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service from a 301st Fighter Wing news release, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Carswell Field)