Black History Month begins

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- Eglin began its Black History Month activities with an opening ceremony Feb. 1.

This year’s theme is “African Americans and the Arts,” which highlights the many impacts African Americans have on visual arts, music, cultural movements and more. 

Black History Month activities here in February include a food drive, a 5K run/walk, Youth Center activities, a trip to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, painting events and a heritage arts festival.

Col. Tom Tauer, 96th Test Wing deputy commander, served as guest speaker.

“As we come together, let us be inspired by the legacy of African American men and women who have served in our military with distinction and courage,” he said.

Tauer said Eglin’s rapid expansion during the 1940s was due in large part to African American engineering aviation battalions. He said approximately 157 battalions were activated in World War II.   Specifically, 48 of them were made up of African Americans, the majority stationed at Eglin.

“It was these newly formed battalions, while training for war, that transformed Eglin’s landscape,” he said.  “Overcoming sweltering heat, they cut through dense forests to construct new roads, buildings, and bridges, paving the way for Eglin’s future.

Tauer said their primary mission was airfield construction and repair.  These airfields were pivotal for Allied aircraft bombers as they returned riddled with bullets and often broken as they landed.

“Their contributions and sacrifices have played a vital role in shaping our nation's history and securing our freedom,” he said.

Tauer invited the audience to participate in the base’s Black History Month celebration.

“As you attend these events, let us reflect on the sacrifices of those who have gone before us and remember that their legacy lives on through the ongoing contributions of African Americans today,” Tauer said.

He encouraged everyone to not only reflect on the past, but also to look to the future with hope and determination.

“Together, we must continue to strive for a culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity within our Air Force, he said.  “We must recognize that our differences are our strengths and that together we are an unstoppable force.”

To find out about the other scheduled events, call 883-1638.