75th Training Command conducts combined observance

By Spc. David Lietz | 85th Support Command | Feb. 23, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016 —
FORT SHERIDAN, Ill. - The Army Reserve knows the importance of observing those that have shaped the country. The Great Lakes Training Division, 75th Training Command located at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, is a great reflection of that. 

They have a history of finding interactive and unique ways to share in observances.

The 75th Training Command presented Chicago actress Cynthia Maddox who dramatized stories in a presentation called Five Famous African-American Women for Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Feb. 20, 2016.

Maddox portrayed America’s first black poet, Phillis Wheatley and retold the story of the Boston Massacre from the perspective of the wife of Crispus Attucks who was shot and killed by British soldiers. In addition, she played women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth; underground railroad conductor Harriet Tubman; and Gwendolyn Brooks, who was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and served in that position until her death in 2000.

Lt. Col. Priscilla Van Zanten, Equal Opportunity Adviser, Great Lakes Training Division, 75th Training Command, chose the program after considering a number of options. 

“I reached out to the DuSable Museum of African American History for resources to get a list of possible programs. I selected this production company because their program incorporated two ethnic observances [Black History Month and Women’s History Month] into one program,” she said.

“We had five units that were able to see the program and satisfy their equal opportunity requirement. It was well received,” said Van Zanten. “The program kept the soldiers on the edge of their seats.”

The most enjoyable part of the performance for Sgt. 1st Class Angelo New, trainer with 3rd battalion, 335th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, was Maddox’s portrayal of poet Gwendolyn Brooks. 

“I think I can relate more to her [Brooks] because I grew up on the south side. It brought it home,” he said. 

The various observances continue to live in the memories of the unit members assigned there. 

“Last year, we had a speaker that portrayed Rosa Parks,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Michael Beadner, chaplain’s assistant, 75th Training Command. 

When it comes to the value of learning U.S. History, Spc. Luis Calderon, 75th TC Headquarters and Headquarters Company, perhaps said it best. “History, in general, I enjoy. It’s important to learn about events of the past so you don’t make those same mistakes.”

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