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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Feb. 6, 2024

Washington Nationals, military leaders honor Black History Month at Arlington National Cemetery

By Airman 1st Class Gianluca Ciccopiedi | 316th Wing Public Affairs

Leaders from Joint Base Andrews and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, along with representatives from the Washington Nationals, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Black History Month to honor the legacy and contributions of Black Americans to the nation and its military, Feb. 2.

The commemoration included two wreath-laying ceremonies, one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and one at the tomb of U.S. Army Cpl. Ernest Judson “Jud” Wilson, who served in World War I before becoming a notable figure in professional baseball.

"It is my honor to represent the Air Force today,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Todd E. Randolph, the first Black American Joint Base Andrews installation commander. “Every day is a day to honor our nation's heroes, some of whom are buried here in Arlington National Cemetery."

Randolph highlighted the significant impact of Tuskegee Airmen, who were trailblazers for Black military aviators in the Air Force.

“We stand on the shoulders of those giants who served before us, and it is through their service, their commitment, and their sacrifice that we’re able to hold the positions to help defend our nation the way we do today," he stated.

U.S. Army Col. Tasha N. Lowery, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall installation commander, spoke on the contributions of her great uncle who is buried at ANC and the significance of the contributions of those who came before her.

“For me, it’s making sure that I uphold his legacy, the same thing the Washington Nationals are doing,” said Lowery. “Making sure that we do the right thing by those that came before us so that we can continue to do great things for this country.”

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis Burgart, Washington Nationals tour guide, provided a detailed history of baseball’s evolution and the significant contributions of Black American players. Burgart commemorated Wilson, who became one of the greatest hitters in the history of the Negro Baseball League and was inducted into the Nationals Park Ring of Honor.

“Jud Wilson was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006,” said Burgart. “To honor that legacy, the Washington Nationals inducted some of the Negro Leaguers that were on the Homestead Grays into Nats Park’s Ring of Honor.”

The event included a tour of the Tomb Guards’ living quarters for Washington National representatives and base commanders to learn more about the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” have stood watch over the Tomb 24 hours a day since 1948.