Feb. 26, 2013
Naval Hospital Beaufort Hosts Black History Month Program
Today, Naval Hospital Beaufort hosted a Black History Month Program for the Tri-Command, which includes the hospital, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island. The event, which was sponsored by the Tri-Command Special Emphasis Committee featured opening remarks by Capt. Joan Queen, the commanding officer of the hospital, dramatic readers, a guest speaker, an African dance, and song.
“Given this year’s theme, which included the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation, I think Naval Hospital Beaufort was a fitting place to host the program,” said Queen. “After all, it was on these very grounds on New Year’s Day 1863 that the Emancipation Proclamation was first read to the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Colored Infantry, a unit comprised of escaped slaves. It was read in front of an oak tree, which still stands on the hospital grounds, as the unit was officially presented with their regimental colors and taken into service.”
During the event, Lt. j.g. Kenya Hester, the hospital’s diversity officer, and Ms. Cynthia Golson, the Tri-Command deputy equal opportunity officer, made a special presentation to Queen in recognition of her role as the first black commanding officer at Naval Hospital Beaufort.
“I am deeply honored to have been recognized,” said Queen, who was visibly moved by the presentation. “I was chosen to be the commanding officer not because of the color of my skin, but because of my qualifications to get the job done. As a nation, we’ve come a long way since that January day 150 years ago when slavery still existed, but we still have more work to do before we truly become a nation that is colorblind. Every day, not just once a month in February, we need to renew our commitment to President Lincoln’s promise and the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. shared with us.”
The guest speaker was Lt. Col. Joseph Jones, the commanding officer of 2nd Recruit Training Battalion at MCRD Parris Island, who discussed black history in America and the commitment of our founding fathers and civil rights activists to the concept of equality.
In addition to Jones’ remarks, performances featured dramatic readings, the Naval Hospital Beaufort Gospel Choir, an African dance in traditional costume by Lt. Chahn Chess from the preventive medicine department, and a solo by Chief Hospital Corpsman Kenny Bush.
Open since 1949, Naval Hospital Beaufort provides general medical, surgical, and emergency services to all active duty personnel, as well as retired military and family members residing in the Beaufort area, a total population of approximately 29,000 beneficiaries.