by Spc. Tori Miller, Georgia National Guard
The Georgia National Guard celebrated “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture” during Black History Month Observance at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Georgia, on February 20, 2020.
“For the countless reasons and data points to reference, we celebrate those who broke the barriers and took our nation toward the objective of being a more perfect union,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard. “Let’s make sure that we continue to look forward as we celebrate today.”
The keynote speaker of the event was Mr. Junie Christian. An immigrant from the Island of Antigua, in the British West Indies, Christian traveled to America as a 15-year-old, unsure of where his life would take him.
“I just want to put a pin in to it right now to say that my struggle coming to America was nothing compared to the first Africans that arrived here 400 years ago,” said Christian. “I was an ordinary person, and I was transported into a circumstance that I had no idea how I would come out of it.”
Once Christian arrived in the United States, he found that receiving his high school education would be harder than anticipated, but with the assistance of an Army recruiter, he received his GED, graduated from Columbus State University, and served 24 years in the Army.
Today, Christian owns J. Christian & Associates and works as a consultant, public speaker and community mentor. He believes that his purpose is to help professionals enter, stay, succeed and lead effectively through his coaching and down-to-earth inspirational style.
“The reason my story is the way it is, is because like our ancestors that came before us, we had to find our way,” said Christian. “Through our resilience, here we are today living in one of the greatest countries on this earth.”
The observance also featured many interactive opportunities for presenters and attendees. Audience members were asked to answer historical trivia questions in exchange for Georgia National Guard memorabilia.
Black History Month became federally recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. Since its initial recognition, every president has written a declaration honoring excellence in African American history during the month of February.
Many visitors, soldiers, and airmen were in attendance for the Black History Month Observance. The Georgia Guard is proud to celebrate diversity and inclusion not just during the month of February, but year-round.
“Here we are today, and I will tell you where I think we are,” said Christian. “We are still ordinary people, thrust into ordinary situations, working toward those extraordinary results. For me, the best way to get extraordinary results is by moving this great experiment called ‘America’ forward.”