Marines experienced the road to freedom Aug. 23 as they travelled to Washington, D.C., on an Equal Opportunity Professional Military Education (PME) field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
The trip was organized six months prior by Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico Equal Opportunity Advisor Master Sgt. Mechelle Sharpe.
Marines took a journey through the early colonization of America, the slave trade, the oppression of African Americans during the Civil Rights era and on into the rise and turmoil of the 21st century.
“These trips are very important for Marines to participate in because they offer a chance for them to learn a bit about different cultures and their role in building up this nation,” Sharpe said. “It’s also about allowing oneself to open up to different opinions, cultures and lifestyles that will ultimately lead to a conversation of understanding and potentially connecting the dots for things they didn’t know.”
According to Sharpe, the trip was more importantly designed to create an environment of unity and respect for their fellow Marines.
“You can’t be segregated and win,” Sharpe said. “We are one team with one fight. It is our Core Values— Honor, Courage and Commitment—the creed of the Marine Corps.”
Staff Sgt. Julie Wrightman equal opportunity officer at Marine Corps Systems Command was truly enlightened by her trip to the museum.
“Trips like this are important because they are relevant to all that we see going on in this nation right now,” Wrightman said. “It begs the question as to what we are doing right now to make the current state of the nation better.”
Wrightman believed the change that the nation wants to see starts with each person as an individual learning about another’s perspective and courageously speaking out against injustice.
“Everybody has their own culture, background and identity that will help lead to a more diverse and inclusive environment,” Wrightman said. “We cannot grow as a nation or achieve success unless we can find a way to communicate with each other.”
Even Dr. Francis Bergmeister, a retired Marine Corps colonel, who holds a master’s degree in history, had a few things to learn during his visit.
“The museum was very elegantly designed to tell a story about the frustration, pain and struggle—persistence, perseverance and success of African American’s and their rise into the modern day,” Dr. Bergmeister said.
SOURCE: Jeremy Beale
The Quantico Sentry