“America The Beautiful” bellowed through the instruments of the Marching 100 Wednesday morning, as students, faculty and guests gathered to honor African-Americans in the armed forces.
“Duty, Honor and Country”, the theme of the program, focused on the dedication of the soldiers that serve this nation.
“This is a special program attributed to all our men and women of our armed forces, who have given their last full measure of devotion in the defense of this great nation,” said Interim President Henry Lewis III.
Lewis also praised the future leaders of the armed forces-ROTC cadets,
“Black History Month also provides an appropriate setting for the FAMU family to also pay tribute to the university’s ROTC programs and to recognize the role that this institution has played for the next generation of military leaders who will stand guard to protect our way of life.”
Retired Lt. General Julius W. Becton Jr., university trustee and guest speaker of the event, explained how African- Americans have made progress in the military as he recounts his father’s experience in the armed forces.
“We’ve come a long way. My father was denied the opportunity to fight for our country in World War I… because black men could not be trusted. . . the status of black men and women in today’s military is a function of our history.”
“We all agree, each of us, that we stand on the shoulders of those who proceeded us. And we do it as a banner of ‘duty, honor and country’,” concluded Becton.
Retired Brigadier General Leroy C. Bell, 1953 FAMU Graduate, explains the significance that FAMU made in his life.
“I would have never been able to stand here if it wasn’t for ‘The Hill (FAMU).’ I was a little kid from Long Island, N.Y. …I came here and learned about comraderie and how it feels to be apart of the United States Army.”
ROTC Cadets see Bell and the ceremony as a staple of hope that they too can accomplish their aspirations in the armed forces of this nation.
“I’m seeing that there is an opportunity for African Americans to reach that peak,” said Abdul Daneshina, 18, a freshman criminal justice student from Los Angeles, “I want to reach that peak,” Daneshina concluded.
“What we wanted to do at FAMU today was to recognize the contributions that African-Americans in the military service have made in defense of this nation,” added Interim President Henry Lewis III.
Lewis also spoke highly of the contributions of the university’s ROTC cadets, “I also wanted to highlight the contributions of our ROTC units, our Army, Navy, Air Force and as well as our Marine Corp. Our young men and women have made significant contributions.”
Judd Smith, a 20 year -old sophomore psychology student from Harrisburg, Pa., is glad that ROTC was recognized. ” It’s good to be recognized and to get some respect.”
Lewis depicts the legacy and success of FAMU’s R OTC programs.
“FAMU has been one of the historical black schools that has produced the largest number of generals for this nation’s military.”