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Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS)
Honoring the Past, Securing the Future
By Tramel Garrett
Friday, March 6, 2020An attentive, diverse crowd packed the Tuskegee chapel for the annual Black History Month observance Feb. 20 to reflect on the rich history of African Americans and how their contributions have shaped our nation.
This year’s theme was “Honoring the Past, Securing the Future,” which commemorated the 75th Anniversary of World War II by acknowledging the sacrifices of more than 2.5 million African American service members.
Black History Month originated from Black History Week, created in 1926 by noted historian and educator, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. He sought to inform the American people about the cultural heritage and contributions of African Americans to the country.
“Today, as we commemorate black history month, we strengthen an important American tradition. For more than half a century, we come together each February to reflect how far our nation and African American communities have traveled the long road to equality and freedom, said Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System Interim Associate Director Tommy Ambrose.
African Americans played a significant role in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, serving bravely and with distinction from the initial attack on Pearl Harbor to the last days of the Pacific campaign.
CAVHCS has the honor and responsibility to serve a large population of African American Veterans. Moreover, with that knowledge, it’s important that we ensure all Veterans feel respected, understood, and well taken care of.
Our keynote speaker Sheriff Derrick Cunningham, Montgomery’s first African American Sheriff, helped us honor the rich history of African Americans.
“When we talk about black history, we have to go all the way back. Think about the struggles and how they prepared you. The way that you were brought up and the values that were instilled in you are the same values you will instill in others,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham discussed the history of black sheriffs from around our nation. One particular point he emphasized was how a black sheriff had to hire white deputies to arrest white citizens.
“This goes to show you how our history has changed. That’s why it behooves us to make sure we educate our youth on the importance of studying history. You need to know where you came from to know where you’re going,” said Cunningham.
African Americans courageously defended and shaped our country’s character and continue to build legacies of freedom and diversity.
“We have to be here for every single one of our Veterans and our employees,” said CAVHCS Interim Medical Center Director Amir Farooqi. “There is so much of our African American/Black history that is so rich and important here in Tuskegee. It’s written into the blood, culture, and history of our country.”
This event is also about strengthening our partnerships with our diverse Veteran community so that we can continue to improve our health care system to better serve all those who served. The Veterans we serve come to us from all walks of life. They have served their country, and now we repay them with the best health care possible.