SAN DIEGO -- Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 held an observance Feb. 11 for Black History Month 2013 with food, a guest speaker, and a video tribute to this year's theme.
This year's theme is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality, the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington."
Black History Month is observed each year to enrich our understanding of the history of Black Americans and U.S. history and how the two are inextricably linked.
"Black History Month to me is a time to recognize African Americans hard work, struggles, success, identities, and contributions to the America in which we live in today," said ESG3 Black History Month Coordinator, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Kendell Lawson. "I believe this month is very important to our young children to be educated and aware of what black history means and because of this they will all continue to remember and understand the growth of our beautiful country, America."
This year marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation was an executive order that proclaimed those enslaved in the confederate territories to be free. This paved the way for the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, outlawing slavery.
"The Emancipation Proclamation was the foundation that helped us grow together as a nation," said Cmdr. Tracy Hines, who was the guest speaker at the observance. "We are all proud to serve honorable and have come together to support and defend this wonderful Country."
2013 also marks the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington D.C. by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters. King then gave his "I have a dream" speech to a crowd of 250,000 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
"No matter what color/gender an individual is their moral make up and values should be the foundation in determining their success," said Hines. "In Dr. Martin Luther King's speech one of the most profound statements to me is 'I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'"
African American's have long served from state and continental navies, and from the start, in 1798, of the Department of the Navy. This heritage includes 16 Navy Medal of Honor recipients. Robert Sweeney was awarded with two Medals of Honor, for actions aboard the USS Kearsarge in 1881 and USS Jamestown in 1883.
"The ESG3 Diversity Committee events are always very educational and engaging for everyone," said ESG3 Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Rosa Wilson. "Their ability and sincerity is evident in the outcome of events like this one."
ESG 3 was commissioned April 17, 2007 and oversees and manages 5 major subordinate commands and 12 amphibious ships, totaling more than 14,000 Sailors and Marines. ESG 3 provides regional and combatant commanders with an agile, tailorable, forward-postured and immediately employable force, capable of projecting expeditionary striking power in the maritime, littoral, and inland environs in support of U.S. national interests.