Words from Martin Luther King about living a life of sharing instead of selfishness were a big part of the 2nd annual Texas African American Soldiers Recognition Day.
Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass formally designated January 20, 2013 as a day to remember African American soldiers who served in the 1960s.
Veterans of the Vietnam war stood as the theme songs for their respective branches were sang.
"At the time we came back from war, it was a time when they didn't really consider us as being worthy of honor," says William Fields, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Army.
Rev. Rodney Atkins says he decided to organize the event after realizing the need to honor African American veterans and their accomplishments.
"It's so important because the youth today need to know the sacrifices that have been made by the former generation," Atkins says.
The veterans' sacrifices were honored with small gifts and acts of respect. And while each veteran was recognized, there was a message much larger than celebrating their individual service.
"To really accomplish missions, just like in the service, you have to be one, joined together, and that's what we need to do as a nation," Fields says.
John Phillips, a retired U.S. Air Force Major General, encouraged he crowd to learn from veterans. He says heroes can serve as a platform to help solve today's problems, like the disintegration of families.
"We are losing a generation, in particular African American males, and I think it's our job, the government can't solve that problem, we have to solve that problem," Phillips says.
"If you're in a fox hole and you have to depend on the person next to you, at that particular moment, it doesn't matter what his race is what his ethnic background is, that doesn't really matter, what really matters is you have someone to support you for survival," says Earnest L. Goodman a Vietnam veteran at the service.
Goodman says that message can be carried over into civilian life and will help our country prosper.
The 3rd Annual Texas African American Soldiers Recognition Day program will be held at North Star Missionary Baptist church in Tyler. Organizers say the event is open to anyone.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:59 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:59:50 GMT
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