Rejection is an inevitable aspect of life that we all encounter. May 2024

Rejection is an inevitable aspect of life that we all encounter. May 2024

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;”

Psalm 118:22

Bob Marley – Cornerstone Story

I love me some Bob Marley. His music, his swag, his message…I love it all. May 11 marks 43 years since his passing, yet his legacy endures.

Bob Marley’s legacy continues to be influential despite his imperfections. He is almost revered as a deity. True fans understand the numerous challenges and hardships that shaped Bob Marley into the icon he became. His early life was marked by rejection and poverty. His mixed-race heritage made him feel like an outsider for most of his life. His father was largely absent from his life, with Bob only meeting him a few times. A pivotal moment occurred when Bob Marley sought assistance from his father’s family. Despite his striking resemblance to them, they denied knowing him, rejecting him outright. This rejection deeply wounded Marley and served as a transformative experience. He turned a painful moment into a source of inspiration, allegedly penning the song “Cornerstone” in response to this experience of rejection.

The cornerstone, a crucial element in construction, symbolizes unity and stability. It serves to establish the foundation, ensuring that the structure stands strong, and fostering unity by connecting two walls. Essentially, the cornerstone is the glue that holds everything together. Without this stone, the entire structure risks collapsing. In the same way, Bob Marley’s music served as a cornerstone, uniting people and providing stability in a world of chaos.

Bob Marley’s music was centered around unity and holding authorities accountable. He was a highly influential figure in Jamaica and the world during his lifetime. He is renowned for his efforts to reconcile two conflicting political parties at the One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica.

Bob Marley on stage with Edward Seaga of the Jamaican Labor Party and
Michael Manley of the People’s National Party. April 22, 1978

Rejection is an inevitable aspect of life that we all encounter. It can lead to bitterness and resentment or inspire us to continue spreading love and positivity. Bob Marley experienced rejection, but he used this pain as a catalyst to elevate his name beyond his family’s reputation. In essence, Bob became the cornerstone, the pivotal element in his own life’s structure.

We are all confronted with a choice. How do we handle our pain? How do we respond to rejection? Do we let it harden us and breed bitterness, or do we use it as a catalyst for transformation and greatness? Always remember the stone that the builders refused will always be the head cornerstone.

Rejection is an inevitable aspect of life that we all encounter. May 2024

Leave the Tomb – April 2024

“Why seek the living among the dead?”

Luke 24:5

About 1,991 years ago, a group of courageous women arrived at a tomb with a solemn purpose: to anoint the body of their crucified leader. But they were in for a huge surprise. When they arrived at the tomb, they saw that their leader’s tomb was open, and his body was missing. As the women are shocked, confused, and afraid, they notice men in dazzling clothing. These men ask the women a strange question: “Why do you look for the living amongst the dead?” What a peculiar question.

I have a recurring dream of being in my grandparents’ house. In this dream, I am alone. I don’t know how I got there, where my family is, or when they are returning. Also, I am afraid. Around this time last year, I visited my grandparents’ house. I had not set foot inside since my grandfather’s funeral 25 years prior. I walked through the house. The rooms that once held love and life now seemed smaller, memories etched in their walls. I wandered around the house, hoping to understand my recurring dream.

How often do we return to our own places of fear and pain? Like a recurring dream, we revisit the scenes of loss, betrayal, or heartache. Yet, we find that revisiting ground zero doesn’t always fulfill our longing. The past remains, but we are called to embrace the present.

Just as the women arrived at an empty tomb and felt fear, I found myself repeatedly drawn to an empty house, my heart echoing their trepidation. The parallel is uncanny. Like the empty tomb, the empty house symbolizes more than physical space. It holds memories, echoes of pain, and unanswered questions. We return to these places of pain, seeking hope, redemption, and closure. Yet, we often find ourselves staring at remnants—the linen, the walls—wondering where the answers lie.

Why do we return to these empty places?

“Why seek the living among the dead?”

The answer is not within the tomb or, in my case, the empty house. It is outside, among the living.

It’s time to walk out of those tombs. The sun is rising, casting light on a new horizon. Fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, jealousy—they no longer define us.

In the words of Nina Simone,

“It’s a new dawn.

It’s a new day.

It’s a new life for me.

And I’m feeling good.”

Calendar – Black Heritage Day

Calendar – Black Heritage Day

Dear Fellow Members of NNOA,
I am honored to have worked on this most unique project honoring Black Women, Black Heritage Day V – WOMEN (BHD V – WOMEN) with my Brother and friend, Dr. Carl Mack, former executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers, NSBE.

This calendar is perpetual (no year and no day), features 366 days of extraordinary Black women (leap year included), has four pages of Table of Contents, Sistas from yesterday and today, and finally 6 of our Extraordinary Naval Sistas per the attachment.

I am strongly encouraging us to purchase and support this one-of-a-kind project. I say again, there is no other calendar like this one. If you were to find one like BHD V – Women, we give you this one for FREE! 
Furthermore, the price is incredible at $19.99, FREE SHIPPING!

To order, go to

Thank you and stay blessed,
Captain Tony Barnes
20th NNOA National President

Loretta Ann Medlock Penn

Loretta Ann Medlock Penn

June 27, 1949 – February 27, 2024

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Loretta Ann Penn, beloved wife of The Honorable B.J. “Buddie” Penn, the 10th President of the National Naval Officers Association (NNOA). Loretta passed away peacefully on February 27, 2024, at her home in Fairfax Station, Virginia, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was 74 years old.

Loretta was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend. She married Buddie, the love of her life, on June 25, 1987, in San Diego, California, and they shared 36 wonderful years of marriage. They were true partners in life and supported each other in their personal and professional endeavors. Loretta was a proud and supportive spouse of Buddie’s service in the U.S. Navy and his leadership in the NNOA. She was also a dedicated and involved member of the NNOA Spouses Organization, serving as the National President for two terms.

Loretta is survived by her loving husband Buddie, stepdaughter Emily Grooms (Bruce), stepsons Brian and Eric, grandsons Geoffery and Jared Grooms, Aunt Lena Sparks, and devoted nieces, nephews and cousins.

A service will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2024, at Antioch Baptist Church at 6531 Little Ox Road, Fairfax Station, Virginia 22039. The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega Omega ceremony will be held at 9:30 am, the viewing will begin at 10:00 am, and the service will follow at 11:00 am.  A repass will immediately follow the service.  The service will be live streamed at

A final service and interment will take place in Dallas, Texas on March 15, 2024, where Loretta will be eternally rejoined with her parents at Laurel Land Memorial Park, 6300 S R L Thornton, Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75232. The viewing will be held at 9:00 am, the service will begin at 10:00 am with the interment immediately following the service.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Loretta Ann Medlock Penn please visit our Tribute Store.

Lieutenant Commander Richard C. West, USN (Ret)

Lieutenant Commander Richard C. West, USN (Ret)

1931 – 2024

The National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) mourns the passing of one of our founders, Lieutenant Commander Richard C. West, USN (Ret).

LCDR West, born in Hobart, Oklahoma, served with distinction in the Army Reserves and Navy during the Korean War. He faced adversity with courage and emerged as a trailblazer, becoming the fifth African American Naval Aviator in 1956.

His distinguished career spanned eleven aircraft types and numerous deployments. He later served as a mentor and advocate for aspiring Naval Officers through the NNOA and various community organizations.

LCDR West is survived by his wife, Pacita, and daughters, Carolyn and Martha.

A viewing for Navy Lieutenant Commander Pilot Richard will be held Thursday, March 14, 2024, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at New Hope Friendship Baptist Church, 2205 Harrison Ave., San Diego, CA 92113, followed by a celebration of life from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

Navy Lieutenant Commander Richard will be laid to rest in Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, CA.

Rejection is an inevitable aspect of life that we all encounter. May 2024

Black history is integral to global history – Feb 2024

 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

Hosea 4:6

 “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.