USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) took part in an African American Heritage Celebration Feb. 27.
More than 300 crew members packed into the foc'sle to participate in the event that focused on the accomplishments - past, present and future - of the African American community.
"It kind of makes you reflect on the history of what African Americans had to go through and the struggles that our forefathers had to go through in the past," said Personnelman 1st Class (SW) Andre Welch.
The celebration featured the Truman Gospel Choir singing the upbeat 'Ride on King Jesus,' and opening remarks from Commander, Carrier Strike Group 10 Rear Adm. Mike Tracy.
"This month has been about bringing history to life in our minds, in our hearts and hopefully in our future actions," said Tracy.
The event also featured an original play performed by heritage committee members.
"The Movement" showed the progression of African Americans' fight for equal rights. This was done through a slide show featuring black-and-white photos of African Americans from the past, followed by speeches from the writings of influential African American leaders Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois.
Though this is a message of the past, event coordinators wanted to stress to the crowd that this message is still relevant today.
"Just the reaction of the people's faces that were there - it made them understand that the issues [from] back then are still with us today," said Heritage Committee president Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Michael Torres.
This event was the climax to African American History Month aboard Truman. Torres said in the past, the month was brought to light by posting banners and passing out flyers. This year, the committee wanted to do things a little differently. They wanted to show, not just tell, people the history and heritage of African Americans.
"Bringing the past in the form that we did helps our generation today better understand the issues that our forefathers went through," said Torres. "We all need to come in as one in the way we think, the way we say things. Even though we're diverse, a lot of us interpret things differently from what is said, and we just need to come together, and basically be a team of
The last song in the ceremony was the Negro National Anthem, which the Heritage Committee invited everyone to join in singing. Many attendees swayed back and forth as they loudly sang the song with pride.
After the ceremony, the celebration moved to the mess decks for a cake-cutting ceremony and ice cream social. This gave Sailors and Marines the opportunity to take that first step in getting to know and understand others who they may think are different from them. Torres said that if this is done, then their mission is complete.
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, consisting of USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Monterey (CG 61), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) and the aircraft from embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, deployed Oct. 13 for its second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.