NORFOLK (NNS) -- U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Phillip Brashear visited USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) to speak at the ship's Black History Month celebration Feb. 21.
Brashear, son of Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl Brashear, the Navy's first African-American master diver, told the Ike crew of his father's determination in a time when racial equality was nonexistent, and his father not only persevered but excelled.
"If it were not for his success, many Sailors might still face barriers he broke years ago," said Brashear.
Brashear mentioned that even his own path of being an African-American aviator was possible thanks to others before him that pushed past barriers.
"Not only did I have Carl Brashear as a father, but I followed in the footsteps of the Tuskegee Airmen," said Brashear. "I wouldn't be flying helicopters today if it weren't for those gentlemen years ago."
These examples were motivation for Brashear to pursue excellence and expect more for himself than others may expect. He said that he never accepts the word "can't" as an option. He extended that "never say can't" advice to the Ike crew.
"Never allow yourself to say 'I can't;' either you'll fail trying or succeed, but never say 'I can't,'" said Brashear. "My father had a lot of chances to say it but if he did, we wouldn't be here talking about the great man he was."
Brashear's words had an impact on the crew. Many commented that they felt empowered by the message of perseverance. Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW/ SW) Christopher Mohrmann, command equal opportunity advisor and the celebration's coordinator, called it an eye-opening experience.
"He talked about what makes us better instead of what makes us different," said Mohrmann. "I thought it was powerful."
"One day I hope that we won't have to have a month set aside, but that all history - black, white, Hispanic and others will be celebrated as American history," Brashear said.
Brashear's father fought many battles in life: poverty, racism, handicap, and alcoholism. So to say that Carl Brashear's fight against prejudice was his only major battle would limit the extent of his legacy in the world. In many ways this country still battles the same issues, and Brashear believes the best way to overcome them is to expect more than the minimum in life.
"There are three things my parents taught me to be a viable citizen in today's world," said Brashear. "You have to work for your sustenance, education doesn't stop; it continues on, and faith or a belief in something greater than yourself. For me it's god, family, and country in that order."
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