Thursday, February 13, 2014

Genma Holmes Shares Highlights from Fort Campbell's Black History Program

It was an honor to be the keynote speaker at Fort Campbell's Black History Month Program. The room was packed with not only men and women in uniform but there was a large number of veterans and many members from the Clarksville Area community.


I was met at the door by a number of soldiers who expressed their thanks for keeping their family and the life of an enlisted member in the public eye through my broadcasts on Living Your Best Life Radio. Not only was I surprised by their heartfelt words but deeply humbled.


I heard the wonderful sounds of the Fort Campbell Band before I saw them! The lively music set the tone that we were assembled to celebrate the accomplishments of Americans whose contributions help make our country great. We were there to shine the spotlight on well known as well as unsung heroes, like my grandparents, who gave their all for the betterment of mankind.



We were warmly welcomed by the staff of Fort Campbell's EEO and EO office. After a beautiful opening prayer, we watched a brief film that was made by the US Army in 1944.  The film recognized the many contributions of African Americans prior to the film's debut. To see the Army, which at the time was dealing with the executive order to desegregate, produced a film that not only profiled the many pioneers from the African American community but also showed Army's appreciation of the "Negro Solider" was truly inspiring. The film was truly ahead of its time and one I highly recommend everyone to watch.


I was introduced by my dear friend, Dr. Gregory P. Stallwork, who I met several years ago in Leadership Middle TN. The introduction made me feel as if  I had won an Oscar and had me choked up before I even said one word.

I shared with the packed room at Commons Park about my life growing up in rural Mississippi and not seeing the division that I see today in our country. I remember two kinds of people: "poor and po". The economic plights of the poorest county in the country, Jefferson County, united Blacks and Whites, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants. Working together for the greater good of all was the mantra of my grandfather's politics that still influences me today.

My only views of the world growing up were the ones my grandparents and parents showed me. They showed me that everyone mattered and that we all have something in common if we take time to get to know our neighbors and fellowman. Of course, as a child you really do not understand what is being taught to you but the foundation that was given to me by my family was paved with Godly intentions and that took root in my life. It is my guiding source today that allow me to lead from behind and to not rush to judge others, what I may not know, or understand.

Sharing pest control stories usually gets me a few laughs and this day was no different. I shared with the audience who were beginning to feel like family half way through my talk that being in the pest control industry was not an easy endeavor. But I have no regrets. I have learned more about people by being in industry that is not glamorous or sought after but is very much needed. My customers are friends who have been with us through the good, bad, and ugly. The Holmes Pest Control has allowed my family to raise our kids, has funded several other ventures and gives me an opportunity to give back to many worthwhile endeavors.

I also shared how much I enjoyed working in the media representing clients as well writing and allowing Living Your Best Life to bring to the airwaves stories like the Montford Point Marines and men like USMC Vietnam Veteran Bert Watkins who received a Purple Heart for his heroism in the Battle of Operation Swift.

I challenged the audience to take a moment to spend time with someone who do not look like them. I asked them to deposit a few words of kindness in that person's life and find a way to make our world a better place. The service of the men and women in uniform unites our country not to divide it. We can show our appreciation for the many firsts made by Americans by being a united country. Instead of focusing on what divides us, let us become more determined to find common ground. I ended sharing about my son, Lance Corporal Roger Cornelius Holmes, II, who became a Marines was a hard pill to swallow at first but because of him, I too. serve my country, proudly, as the mother of one of "The Few, The Proud, The Marines."

 For more photos of my wonderful day at Fort Campbell click here.

Photo credits: Otis Toussaint

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