We are one family. My dear friends, I want to welcome you all, on behalf of the African American Association, affiliated to the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust. I want to thank Tim Barrow for his dedication in taking the lead role to put this event together. Our President Joe Oliver, our Treasurer Angela Cannon, Ruth Foster, Rick Penn, Wanda, Guy Washington, Will Elder, all those who contributed their talents, services, and support to make this event the best ever, since its inception 7 years ago.

The Buffalo Soldiers, means many things to many people. To us here at the Presidio we are proud that they played an important part in the history of the Presidio of San Francisco. Also, in the making and history of the National Park Service. The first Standard Operating Procedures linked to our National Parks was written by the Buffalo Soldiers.

The National Park Service was formed in 1916 and much before that the Buffalo Soldiers guarded and maintained our National Parks foremost among them Sequoia National Park. The 9th and 10th Cavalry the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments were all stationed here at the Presidio of San Francisco. General Pershing affectionately called "Black Jack" led the Buffalo Soldiers from the Presidio of San Francisco.

While a square is named after General Pershing, no attempt what so ever has been made to honor the Buffalo Soldiers by naming a Street, a building, placing a plaque, some symbol in an auspicious place that would honor those who have done so much for this great nation.

Even as we glance a few hundred feet from this august meeting place, the former Non-Commissioned OfficersÕ Club now called the Golden Gate Club, we are reminded of over 600 Buffalo Soldiers who lie buried in the VeteranÕs Administration Cemetery here on the Presidio of San Francisco.

And just as we are proud of the thousands of Buffalo Soldiers who served our great country with dignity all over the world, we are proud of the lone woman Buffalo soldier who deeds speak more than words.

This gathering of people to celebrate the history of the contribution of African Americans is a gathering of a large family. We seek to unite and work with all people . We seek to be Americans first ,recognizing that it is important to be proud of the culture of our fore fathers and mothers. To be connected with Africa, Africans, and to be proud to be called African Americans. Africa, after all is the home of humankind

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual " Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last." Words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King who played an important and key role in the Civil Rights movement.

Here are the Presidio of San Francisco all African Americans should feel very proud because of the continuous contribution to the making and building of the Presidio. Our immense contribution as part of Sixth U.S Army and Presidio of San Francisco. Our contribution as part of the U.S. Garrison. Our contribution as part of the Health Command and LAMC. The Letterman Army Institute of Research. United States Information Systems Command. Logistics Control Activity. All the Directorates funded by the Appropriated and Non-Appropriated funds.

We must remember that the Presidio had jurisdiction over the twelve western states. This was the Training Center for all the Reserve Forces. Our role in Desert Storm and Desert Shield made history because for the first time Reservists played an important role and many of them were African Americans. The Presidio was at the helm of affairs and we did our Nation proud.

The historic changes brought about by Base Closure in 1991 brought in new players. The NPS and the Trust. Some of us have been fortunate to see the changes, live the changes, and bear with the changes. Are we African Americans better of today working at the Presidio? This question will have to be answered by each one of us who contribute our talents in the making and progress of the Presidio of San Francisco.

I was fortunate to serve three Generals. Earn two Commander Awards and many more awards during my service here at the Presidio. I have given my best to bring the Presidio Community together. For 7 years we have kept the fire burning. We have kept the fire burning because our fore fathers set a trail of progress. The Buffalo Soldiers who are so dear to my heart have been our inspiration. The AAA has done us proud! Again each one of you attending this function is participating in the making of history of the Presidio of San Francisco.

Today, you will hear some great speakers with great ideas and a vision that sets the tone to address issues in the New Millennium. You will see and participate in the many educational activities arranged for you all. You will tour the Presidio and learn about the history and contribution to this great place by African Americans. We want you to feel at home . We want you to treasure this day and help us all in the progress of the issues, concepts, and vision addressed to day.

We are gathered today
as one great family
we honor the Buffalo Soldiers
and pay tribute
to all of you
and all those
who came
before you
who contributed
their talents
to make the Presidio
what it is today.
This event
held once a year
helps to keep
the fire burning
we ask God's blessing
on the officers
of the AAA
the authorities who
are at the helm of affairs
at the Trust and the NPS
we welcome you
to share in the
goodness of our work
and sacrifice
understand the contributions
of African Americans
from the early day to day
and into the
New Millennium
we are confidant
that God willing
the fire will be kept burning
this seed that was planted
7 years ago
will grow into a big healthy tree
its branches will bear fruit
the Presidio will be proud
and appreciate the contribution
of all African Americans and those
sisters and brothers , all Americans
who have helped us
make what we are today.
Almighty God enlighten our minds
open our hearts
fill us with wisdom
to bring the best in us
so that all may
participate and enjoy
the fruits of progress
for the good of all
My friends I welcome you
and encourage you to participate
in the history of the making
of the Presidio of San Francisco.