Heritage luncheon celebrates possibilities
Chief Master Sgt. Brye McMillon, Air University command chief master sergeant, provides words of encouragement at the annual luncheon celebrating African-American Heritage Month Tuesday at the Officers' Club (Air Force photo/Wendy Simonds)
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
2/25/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The African-American Heritage Committee held its annual luncheon Tuesday at the Officers' Club at Maxwell. The program event was a culmination of a series of events celebrating African-American heritage.
According to Chief Master Sgt. Brye McMillon, Air University command chief master sergeant, celebrating African-American History month is about celebrating the equality we all share.
"We celebrate the accomplishments of other Americans. It allows us to remember a time when African-Americans were not considered equals," he said.
"Celebrating it now reminds us constantly that we are all equals. Anyone can do anything."
African-American History Month is a nationally recognized celebration of achievements and contributions of African-Americans in all aspects in U.S. history.
Chief McMillon stressed that his speech would not be a history lesson.
"I'm not going to stand here and talk about the accomplishments of fellow Americans in history. We could stand here all day and quote names," Chief McMillon said. "Until we bring history back to life and reshape it ourselves, history won't mean anything."
Chief McMillon asked the question, "What are you waiting for?" He encouraged attendees to let history remind us where we have been and encourage us to move
"There are a lot of people that have things they want done, but there are not a lot of people out there doing anything about it. That is why the question for you is, 'What
are you waiting for?'" he said.
The speech concluded with a call to be leaders that bring about change to societal norms.
"I believe you are a thermostat or you are a thermometer. One controls the temperature of a room; the other checks it. We don't need leaders that are checking temperatures. We need leaders that will control the temperature," Chief McMillon said. "We can change the temperature of society, and we can change it now."
Chief McMillon hoped that his speech encouraged people to stop waiting on others to do something and to do it themselves.
After the address, 42nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Brian Killough thanked Chief McMillon for his speech and encouraged all attendees to take his words to heart: "Remember those who went before us. Those who made the choice to get off the porch and say, 'I'm not waiting anymore. Today is my day.'"
The event also featured performances by the Sidney Lanier High School Choir and a praise dance by Tech. Sgt. Tamara Dunning and Staff Sgt. Quanita Knight. Janet Speer, chairman of the committee, and Tech. Sgt. Shamar Jones of the Air Force Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems, hosted the event.
The event concluded with the attendees standing and singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," by James Weldon Johnson, whose words echo the chief's message: to let history remind us where we have come from and push us forward.
Out of the gloomy past
'Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam
Of our bright star is cast.