USS PEARL HARBOR, At Sea - Sailors and Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) celebrated African-American/Black History Month with a celebration on the mess decks, Feb. 28.
Sailors and Marines performed poetry readings, sang hymns, read biographies of African-Americans in history and recited Martin Luther King, Jr.s "I Have a Dream" speech.
"We wanted to recognize all the things African Americans have done; not just them, but people who helped them along in history," said Chief Operations Specialist Perselphonie Janrhett.
Janrhett said that although this holiday recognizes African-Americans, it is a month for all Americans.
"All races helped get freedom for African-Americans," said Janrhett. "That's important to recognize."
In keeping with this year's theme, "Black Women in American Culture and History," Sailors and Marines gave presentations on African-American women in history.
Yeoman 1st Class Eugenia Rhone paid tribute to Maya Angelou by reciting her poem "Phenomenal Woman."
"That poem speaks to black women because it tells who we are," said Rhone. "So I wanted to share it with the crew and give them a taste of who Maya Angelou is."
The hour-long program concluded with closing remarks by Pearl Harbor Commanding Officer Cmdr. Homer Denius and Combat Logistics Battalion 11 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Andrew Bergen.
"I've been honored and blessed to work and serve with all races in my time in the Marine Corps and my time in life," said Bergen. "And the platonic love for one another and the love for our country have got us to where we are right now."
After Bergen spoke, Denius addressed the audience.
"Today we take inspiration from these great heroes," said Denius. "Their struggles have lead to where we are today, on this ship, living together, eating at the same tables and sleeping in the same berthings."
Pearl Harbor and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th MEU are deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.