By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — More than 600 Airmen learned about various cultures at the 10th annual Diversity Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Aug. 17.
The day is recognized as a cross-cultural and cross-gender celebration focusing on one of the eight special observances historically recognized by military organizations.
The event included education booths, cultural performances and food vendors representing different cultures around the world.
Col. Brian Kehl, commander of the 50th Mission Support Group, kicked off with opening remarks by asking a question for the Airmen: “When people ask you your origin of heritage, what do you tell them?”
Kehl’s answer to this rhetorical question was simple, “We all have different stories, and no one will be the same. Diversity in the Air Force is what makes us stronger.”
Kehl continued speaking about working together as a team, sharing his experience working in an organization like the Air Force.
“Working by myself versus working with a group made all the difference,” he said. “When I’ve been on team, we always came up with more, and better ideas than we could individually.”
Kehl then introduced special guest Franklin Macon, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and United States Air Force retired Col. Mark Dickerson, and President of the Hubert L. “Hooks” Jones chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.
Macon then spoke about his journey becoming a Tuskegee Airman, and the adversity he overcame, having been turned down twice because of his age and education.
Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Tester, chief enlisted manager for the 50th MSG, asked Macon a final question: “You faced all this adversity, what kept you going and what made you push through?”
Macon’s response: “Guts, I guess.”
As president of Diversity Day, 1st Lt. Spencer Proctor, mission planner with the 1st Space Operations Squadron, began planning the event in June, and used every bit of his guts to execute the mission.
“My role as president was to manage a team of members and several committees to ensure the success of the event,” he said. “Committees included performance, food, marketing and security.”
Proctor’s main concern was providing a voice for the teams.
Additionally, Proctor ensured the indoor running track was transformed into a cultural center so when people walked in, they felt as if they were experiencing something new.
The event continued with an opening dance performance, several food vendors and various interactive, educational displays.
“We tried to slip in educational info regarding different ethnicities and cultures into the food vendors and performances,” Proctor said. “When people are having fun and you add some education in there, that’s when they learn something valuable.”
Proctor said the event was a success because of the support of base agencies and willing Airmen.
“We had a great team and everyone was focused, so it worked out well,” he said. “I loved to see how much fun people were having, enjoying food and engaging with the booths. Airmen learned something they were unfamiliar with before they walked in.”
Proctor enjoyed conversing with different Schriever Airmen, and appreciated how engaged they were.
“When we celebrate diversity, we’re a much stronger group, family and military,” Proctor said. “We are stronger when we appreciate diversity and know the benefits. We embrace it and make it inclusive and interactive, our military is more powerful.”
Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of client systems with the 1st Space Operations Squadron helped plan the event.
“The best part of the event was looking at all of the cultures represented at Schriever,” he said. “It’s important to have events like these to display how diverse we are.”
Proctor was grateful so many Airmen attended the event and participated in all Diversity Day had to offer.
“Hopefully next year is bigger and better,” he added. “I’m hopeful the people that learned about diversity can come out next year and run a booth, or give ideas on how to make it better.”