On Saturday #TeamJBMHH celebrated #BlackHistoryMonth at Memorial Chapel. The program included a member of the dance ministry team from ReCreations Ministries and Spring of Living Water Church of Restoration, Maryland. 

Gospel celebration

JBM-HH’s Black History Month

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Gospel Service hosted a final Black History Month celebration Saturday in Memorial Chapel to close out a month full of special events, which highlighted the contributions and sacrifices made by African Americans to benefit the nation.

This annual event brings together individuals from across the local military and civilian communities to honor that legacy, said guest speaker Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) William Green, Jr., U.S. Army deputy chief of chaplains.

“We hope the service will inspire the community to acknowledge the wide range of contributions African Americans have made to the nation since its founding,” he said, reflecting on the program’s theme of honoring the past and supporting the future.

Emcee for the Memorial Chapel service was Darren Haynes, sports director and anchor at television station WUSA. He shared that he was learning history that day from the many black history displays that filled the chapel.

“Notable black sports figures weren’t taught in school, and as a sports director, I should know those stories,” Haynes said. “So, getting the opportunity to highlight all those who have broken barriers is a blessing.”

The service featured gospel music performances by Staff Sgt. David Szabo of the U.S. Army chorus, the Military District of Washington Mass Choir, the Fort Meade Gospel Choir and the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Gospel Choir. ReCreations Ministries and Spring of Living Water Church of Restoration in Maryland shared an interpretive dance and scripture presentation.

Speaking on the theme of honoring the past, guest speaker retired Brig. Gen. Clara L. Adams-Ender used her remarks to share the stories of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune and Nannie Helen Burrows. These educators laid the foundation for African Americans’ access to quality education noted Adams-Ender, who broke many barriers herself during a long military career.

“We need to remember there were three women who ensured we’d be educated,” she said. “We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Looking toward the future, speaker Chaplain (Col.) James Palmer Jr., director of plans, policy and resources, office of the U.S. Army chief of chaplains, introduced those who filled the pews to 2nd Lt. Emily Perez. The highest-ranking African-American female cadet in the history of the United States Military Academy, Perez was killed in action on Sept. 12, 2006, becoming the first female African- American officer in US military history to die in combat.

“She answered the call of duty in a time of war,” said Palmer. “Stories like this can inspire each of us to make this world a better place to live. We need to continue to tell the stories of African- American service and contributions to future generations, so their sacrifices and struggles weren’t in vain.”

The gospel service also included the Keeper of the Community Awards presentations, recognizing local community members and organizations who are key supporters of the African- American community. The 2020 honorees were:

• Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, on its 100 years of fostering scholastic achievement and community service. The sorority was founded at Howard University.

• Dwayne Renal Sims, founder of the Negro League Legends Hall of Fame, for preserving the history of African American and Negro League ballplayers.

• Mercedes Kirkland-Doyle, founder of The Good News Community Kitchen for her efforts to combat hunger in northern Virginia.

• Montford Point Marines, D.C. Chapter Six, for their work keeping the history of the unit alive.

• Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal L. Gragg, U.S. Army Medical Command, for his dedication to improving the health and well-being of the local military community and his mentoring of junior servicemen and women.

• Mona Fobish, for her dedicated service as executive pastor of the JBM-HH Gospel Service.

By Alice Swan

Pentagram Reporter