Walter Reed Bethesda Celebrates Black History Month

By Bernard S. Little

Walter Reed Bethesda Public Affairs Staff Writer

Spoken word artist Army 1st Sgt. Quincy Martin recites one of his poems during the Black History Month program at Walter Reed Bethesda on Feb. 23 in Memorial Auditorium.

“Success Always Leaves Footprints,” said Booker T. Washington, an American educator, author, orator and advisor to U.S. presidents. The quote was the theme for this year’s Black History Month observance, celebrated at Walter Reed Bethesda during a program Feb. 23 in the medical center’s Memorial Auditorium.

“This theme suggests we as Americans must leave successful footprints for others to follow. We as Americans must find ways to lift others up vice pulling them down,” said Chief Petty Officer Marcus Williams, the program’s guest speaker. “Americans must also inspire others to think highly of themselves,” he added.

“This quote, ‘Success Always Leaves Footprints,’ in its essence, was there when Charles Lenox Remond [recruited blacks for the U.S. Colored Troops during the American Civil War], and when Jean Baptiste Point du Sable [established a previous unsettled area in Illinois which became Chicago]. It was there [in 1863] when Sgt. William Carney became the first black recipient of the Medal of Honor, and in 1944 when the Navy commissioned its first African American officers, the Golden Thirteen. And most recently, it was there when America elected its first African American president, President Barack Obama.

“So ‘Success Always Leaves Footprints,’ [and] we are leaving them now,” Williams continued. “It’s our responsibility as Americans to ensure we follow those footprints and in doing so, create our own footprints on our journey towards success,” he added.

Army Pvt. Asia Anderson, of the Multicultural Committee, host for the program, said, the theme “captures some of the challenges and milestones in the nation’s history; the barriers [individuals] faced and the footprints they left behind. Each step of the way, the military has supported the movement towards equality,” she added.

In his invocation, Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Daniel Chung echoed these sentiments, praying for “continued guidance to light the path so people, neighbors, those of a different color, brothers and sisters are not forgotten [and correcting] the course of our finite hearts and minds that we might become inclusive rather than exclusive in how we view and value others.”

Army 1st Sgt. Quincy Martin recited his original spoken word piece, “A Paradise,” at the observance.

Speaking from the heart and with passion, Martin said, “[my grandmother] told me to never let my environment influence me from reaching my full potential or set up barriers that might slow down my progression… If Black Lives Really Do Matters, then it starts with us first.”

In another of his poems entitled “It’s In Me,” Martin said, “Please believe me when I say that strength runs through my blood… Yeah I’ve been knocked down and fell on my back, but I always figured, as long as I could look up, I could get up… God put this inside me, so I’m going to act accordingly and continue down this route… My strength comes in large amounts. It’s in me.”

Musician Tory B. performs “God Bless the Child” during the Black History Month program at Walter Reed Bethesda on Feb 23.

Musician Torry B. also performed during the program, singing a moving rendition of Billie Holliday’s song, “God Bless the Child,” to close out the program.

The event was followed by members of the Multicultural Committee serving a lunch of traditional African-American dishes.

“It’s important we remember the struggles and achievements of our people so we can move forward and continue to do great things,” said Kevin Allen, of the Radiation Safety Division at WRNMMC, who attended the observance.