“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
2 Timothy 4:2
My upbringing in the metropolitan region of Atlanta was characterized by an omnipresent aura of “Black Excellence.” This was mainly because my family lineage is steeped in the tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with my parents and siblings being proud alumni of the Atlanta University Center. The political landscape I was accustomed to was predominantly African American, with both male and female mayors and congressional members. Consequently, the Obamas were not an exception but rather a reaffirmation of the Black excellence that was a constant in my life.
Throughout my educational journey, from kindergarten to college, I was under the leadership of African American principals and presidents, both male and female. Many of my educators were products of the Atlanta University Center, which greatly influenced my decision to attend Spelman College. The representation of Spelman alumnae was compelling; these women exuded a level of acuity that I aspired to emulate. As a student, the essence of Black History was not confined to a single month but was an integral part of our curriculum throughout the year. This comprehensive exposure to my history fostered a robust sense of identity within me.
However, it was not until I ventured beyond the confines of Atlanta to pursue graduate studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, that I realized the uniqueness of my cultural upbringing. It was in this new environment that I encountered institutional racism, microaggressions, and distortions of our history for the first time. Faced with these challenges, I found myself compelled to contest the inaccuracies propagated by my professors despite the potential academic repercussions. The prospect of my history being misrepresented was unacceptable, and I was prepared to bear the consequences of defending the truth.
I believe this is our collective responsibility. We must ensure that our narratives are accurately represented, and that the truth of our identities is not compromised. We must resist attempts to erase or trivialize our history. We are not merely entertainers and athletes; we are inventors, scholars, scientists, theologians, world leaders, and so much more. Our contributions are vast and significant, and they deserve to be recognized and celebrated.
Persist in the narration of our history beyond the confines of February. Articulate the truth with unwavering conviction. Black history is integral to global history, and its significance should not be diminished. Continue to disseminate our narrative until it is recognized as the norm rather than the exception. Our history is not an anomaly; it is a standard that contributes to the rich tapestry of world history. Let us strive to ensure that it is acknowledged as such.
With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Alma Bernice Clark Gravely, devoted wife of the late Retired Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr.
Born on December 11, 1921, Alma led a life of ultimate grace and unwavering support alongside her husband, Admiral Gravely, the first African American Admiral in the United States Navy. Together, they raised three children, Robert, David, and Tracey, instilling in them the values of service, resilience, and love.
Alma’s kindness, sharp wit and tremendous strength touched countless lives. She will be remembered for her gentle spirit, steadfast dedication to family, and commitment to her community. Alma was an iconic Navy Wife.
Alma Bernice Clark Gravely leaves a legacy of love, service, and strength.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024, at Olive Branch Baptist Church, 4203 Mountain Rd., Haymarket, VA, 20169. Viewing will begin at 10:00 AM, followed by the service at 11:00 AM.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Native American Veterans Association (NAVA.ORG), which was close to Alma’s heart.
We will forever cherish her memory and the light she brought to our lives.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
On my last night as a hospital chaplain in seminary, I received a call around 3:00 am. It had already been a hectic night. It seemed like the pager would not stop going off. The nurse told me that they had a baby in the pediatric intensive care unit on life support because of brain swelling from a car accident. His mother had been driving and had been hit by a drunk driver. Her mother was killed instantly, and now her son was on life-support.
I got myself together and walked over to the pediatric ICU to talk with the nurses and see the little man. I had never seen a baby’s head swollen and banged up like that in my life. While I was standing next to his bed, I noticed his name was Immanuel. The nurses informed me that Immanuel was going to die. I prayed with little Immanuel and then visited with his mother.
When I walked into the waiting room, I immediately observed that she had a lot of support with her. There were friends and family members all sitting with her and comforting her. At hospitals, people tend to get scared when a chaplain enters the room because they either know or assume the chaplain brings or precedes terrible news. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. I informed everyone who I was and let her know I was there to support her in any way I could.
I sat and listened as the mother explained what happened that night and how she was upset because she watched her mother die because of someone else’s fault. She then began talking about her fears for her son’s life and how she did not know what she would do if she lost him and her mother. And then she said something I will never forget. She said, “I named my son Immanuel, which means ‘God with us,’ so I know God is with me right now.” It was painful to hear her say that, knowing what I knew yet, I could not tell her. Her son was going to die. I remained with her for the rest of the morning until she fell asleep. I left my contact information with her friends in case she needed me later.
As I returned to my room, her words echoed, “I named my son Immanuel, which means ‘God with us,’ so I know God is with me right now.” I began to wonder what “God with us means.” Had God failed her in the death of her mother and son caused by the actions of an irresponsible individual? Where is God in all of this?
God was there long before I arrived. God was there when the accident took place. God was there in the nurses and doctors, tending to her and her son. God was there in the friends and family, comforting her. God was there even in me coming there to comfort her in her time of need. And God is still there with her even now. God is always there. We may not always understand how God works, but we can rest assured God is with us, Immanuel.
This Veterans Day, we honor all who have solemnly sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice!
On every day after, let us continue to strive towards a more perfect union as we fulfill the promises of the American Dream. May God continue to bless America!
Cedric E. Pringle
RDML USN (Retired)
Founded in a Philadelphia Tavern on 10 November 1775, the United States Marine Corps has forged a legendary legacy, while answering our nation’s call, for the past 248 years. From muzzle loaders, Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR), the F-35 Lightning and down to the deadliest weapon in the Marine Corps arsenal—the individual Marine, Marines have struck fear into the hearts and minds of our nation’s enemies. As we celebrate this 248th anniversary of the nation’s foremost warrior class—The United States Marine Corps, let us reflect on the words of The Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
“Marines, you are the strength of our Corps, and your actions determine the fate of millions of future warriors and their ability to stand on your shoulders. I know that you are ready. Take pride in what you represent, you are the pinnacle of professional warriors and the model for others to follow. SMMC Ruiz and I are proud to stand among you and we’ll be with you every step of the way.”
~ 39th Commandant, General Eric Smith.
“As we come together to celebrate our 248th Birthday, I encourage every Marine to reflect on our history, and think about the moment when you asked yourself, do I have what it takes? You are on a journey that few have dared to do.”
~20th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Carlos Ruiz
The National Naval Officers Association wishes all you Leathernecks Jarheads Devildogs Soldiers of the Sea Marines, and your families a Happy 248th Birthday!