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On the road which guides us

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kevin McWashington
  • 301st Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Teacher, historian and author, Carter G. Woodson, proposed in 1915 a time to celebrate nationwide Negro History Week. His proposal later became Black History Month, which is celebrated every February. Black History Month may reconcile our past with the present while strengthening our future.

Have you ever heard of War Department General Order No. 143? Looking through the window of history, there are several milestones in our nations evolution that resonate in the depths of our culture. Then, there are subtle events that often receive little fanfare, yet are just as important to shaping and molding this country we love and serve.

General Order No. 143 fits this criterion. Issued on May 22, 1863, the order established the Bureau of Colored Troops.

In the article, First to Fight, author John Raymond Gourdin states, "Prior to the establishment of the Bureau, colored regiments were organized and supported by state governments in free states and in areas in Confederate states occupied and controlled by Federal troops. However, after the establishment of the Bureau those regiments that were previously raised by state governments and carried state designations, were redesignated as regiments of United States Colored Troops (USCT) and assigned a USCT number."

Although no longer considered colored, Americans of African descent continue to agree with the fundamentals and principles of which General Order 143 was established. Offering the opportunity to serve, defending the borders we dwell within and upholding the integrity of law permeate through those of us who continue the tradition of service to this great nation today.

February is not only a time to reflect, but more importantly, a time of growth. By understanding the struggles and progress made by our predecessors, we are obliged to follow their lead and improve our country!
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