A Command and General Staff College student said Black History Month should be “a time of reflection for everyone of us in the nation.”

Capt. Victoria Parrish-Edwards made her remarks as the guest speaker at a Black History Month presentation Wednesday at the Frontier Conference Center on Fort Leavenworth. The theme of the presentation was African Americans in Times of War.

“We cannot forget about the trailblazers of the past that paved the way for all to serve,” Parrish-Edwards said. “As we acknowledge African Americans at war, we must do so by understanding our past, realizing our future and reinforcing our commitment toward unity.”

Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements of African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Parrish-Edwards, who has served in the Army for 11 years, said that African American men and women were willing to give their lives for a country that refused to acknowledge their talents because of the color of their skin.

But she said that “if we want to see a positive change in the world, we must be the change agent that pushes our environment to change.”

Parrish-Edwards recounted the efforts of several African American soldiers, including the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, the first all-black auxiliary unit, established in July 1778.

She also talked about the heroic efforts of Pvt. William Thompson during the War of 1812, as well Della Raney, who became the first African American nurse commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

“In order to move forward we must first understand our past,” she said.

She said the military has no room for discrimination, bias or division.

“In order to be successful in the future as a diverse force,” she said, “we have to continue to embrace diversity as a way to maximize individual talent, increase morale and greatly enhance military effectiveness, regardless of race, creed or color.”

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