MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
As the annual Black History Month celebrations came to a close Sunday across the U.S., one local school ended theirs by inviting a Marine officer to discuss the importance of freedom.
In the United States, Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African-Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month, the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African-Americans.
Dougherty International Education Middle School in Albany, Ga., held their Black History Month program Friday and Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, Maintenance Center Albany, was invited to be the guest speaker.
The school cafeteria was filled with students and teachers who appeared to hang on every word as Reid spoke on the theme, “Freedom is not free, it is won.”
After explaining to the students what his daily role is as commander of MCA, he began his talk noting that there would be a quiz at the end giving participants the opportunity to win a few ‘goodies.’
Reid began by telling the audience of mostly students that he has been a Marine for more than 25 years and served all over the world, moving his family 14 different times.
“More than two centuries ago, bold and courageous visionaries signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. In doing so, our forefathers proclaimed to the world that liberty was a natural right of all mankind, which began one of the greatest chapters in human history,” he said.
Reid continued, “Our forefathers fought for our freedoms and the freedoms of all who lived in this world. Thomas Jefferson penned the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that the architect of our republic boasts the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
Reid further explained that the Revolutionary War was the first call to duty for America. He said it ignited a firestorm which has changed the world forever.
“This call was answered by America’s sons and daughters who fought and struggled to give birth to this great nation. For 234 years, service men and women have answered the call to duty, serving their fellow citizens to ensure the defense and preservation of our liberty and way of life. Why, because freedom is not free,” he said.
Reid concluded by saying, “U.S. service men and women are professionals who stand ready to fight anytime, anywhere, against any enemy that the president and Congress may designate. We are trained not to hate. Patriotism and professionalism are our hallmark, but we stand ready to execute at a moment’s notice because we know that freedom is not free.”
“Regardless of how our service began, all who have served have something in common: we live by a strict code of discipline. Every veteran understands the meaning of personal accountability, loyalty and shared sacrifice. I am reminded of Captain Edward Branch, the first African-American to serve as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His service paved the way so those who look like me could honorably serve as an officer in the Marine Corps,” Reid said.
Reid explained that the motto of the Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis, which means “Always Faithful.”
“So, on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to say thank you to all of our veterans for being faithful in their service. Because of their service, Americans have remained free to enjoy the fruits of our Constitution - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
Rodney Coates, a sixth grade student who also introduced Reid, said, “It was a great speech, and I learned a lot about our history. He was really good, and I won a prize for paying attention and answering one of his questions correctly.”
Alarna Mayberry, one of the program coordinators said, “When we came up with our theme, we knew we needed a military person and had heard good things about Colonel Reid, so we invited him to speak. The committee felt he would be good for our program, and he really did an outstanding job today.”
Mayberry added that the speech was beneficial to the students because she notices that they take their freedom for granted, but to hear about the fight for America because of events such as 9/11, and to hear about African-Americans taking part in the fight was good for them. “They learned a lot and to hear them answering all of his questions at the end was great,” she said.
For more photos, visit MCLB Albany’s Facebook site, ‘Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.’