BLACK HISTORY MONTH: CELEBRATING BLACK VETERAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO OUR NATION
From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
We have celebrated Black History Month every February since 1926. It has traditionally been a time to celebrate people and historic events in the African American community that contributed to the unity and stability of our nation.
February is the same month we celebrate birthdays for Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Frederick Douglass, an African American leader of the abolition movement in Massachusetts and New York.
African American veterans have supported and defended our nation as far back as colonial times. During the Civil War, African Americans served in 175 Union Army regiments, comprising over 10 percent of the force. They are known to have served in the Buffalo Soldiers (the Army’s 10th Cavalry Regiment), the Spanish-American War, World War I, Korean War, World War II and all subsequent wars and contingencies. They were members of Regiments known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the Montford Point Marines, and the Tuskegee Airmen.
As of 2015, 92 of the 3,470 Medal of Honor Awardees were awarded to 90 different African American recipients. Eight African American sailors earned the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. An additional honor bestowed on African American service personnel as World War II ended was the naming of a number of “Liberty Ships” and subsequently nine Navy ships for outstanding African Americans.
For more information about African American Military Leaders, there are books such as the one written by Walter L. Hawkins titled “Black American Military Leaders, A Biographical Dictionary,” “The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military” by Gerald Astor, or “African Americans in the Military” by Catherine Reef.