Speaker encourages service with resiliency at African-American History Month presentation

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

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Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tara Thompson delivered moving and inspiring remarks during the African-American/Black History Month presentation Feb. 21 at the Frank Lotts Conference Center, Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Her heartfelt storytelling and passionate delivery of her presentation, “Serving Through Uncertainty And Adversity With Resiliency,” prompted a standing ovation from the captive audience.

Thompson, who is the Materiel Management Major Command Functional Manager for the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, was the featured speaker at the event, “African Americans In Times Of War.”

“My story, my chapter is only one part of a more significant African-American phenomenon. An African-American novel whose pages have been engraved by some of history’s greatest warriors: heroes, activists, leaders, pastors, fathers, sons, mothers and daughters,” Thompson said. “[It is] a story of sweat, a story of tears, a story of tenacity … a story of sacrifice, a story of humility, and for some a story of the ultimate sacrifice. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a beautiful American classic.”

The program honoring the contributions of African-American service members in times of war throughout U.S. history was presented as part of the Equal Opportunity Ethnic Observances coordinated by Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Business Process Support Directorate Special Emphasis Program Committee in conjunction with the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity.

Among the 150-plus audience members was Michelo “Mick” Glover, DLA Aviation business process analyst and retired Air Force master sergeant, who previously worked for Thompson. “She’s a dynamic speaker and a visionary,” Glover said of Thompson. “She took me past my capabilities, empowering me.”

Thompson told the audience, “It is because of the tenacity, courage and commitment of those before me—who did what needs to and should be done, what couldn’t be done and wouldn’t be done—that I can fly over mountains, sail across stormy seas and stand before you strong, determined and informed, as a proud, confident, educated African-American woman serving in the top one percent of the enlisted ranks in the best Air Force in the world,” she said. “I am honored, humbled and I respect the responsibility I have been afforded to be a part of this great legacy.”

She said the contributions and sacrifices of previous generations of African-American service members can only be repayed “by accepting our shared humanity and respecting each other’s dignity …by celebrating our differences and embracing each other’s experiences, for these experiences make us who we are.”

Thompson encouraged the audience to leverage unity at home and work, in church, schools and communities. “It is imperative we come together, that we serve both individually and collectively, for together we can achieve more. It starts today. And it starts right here at DLA. We are all accountable for repaying this debt. We must be the change we want. Become engaged, become involved. Come together and demand it.”

While she reminded the audience that uncertainty and adversity are part of the process she said, “even in these things you will show your resiliency. No matter what, in all things, you must serve. Serve! On purpose, with purpose. Do it deliberately. They did, and we must.”

Find out more about African Americans in Times of War.