News and Tribune

November 11, 2013

Jeffersonville Veterans Day ceremony honors Indiana National Guard's first black brigadier general

Wayne Black of Indianapolis assumed post in July


JEFFERSONVILLE — The Indiana National Guard’s first black brigadier general was the special guest of a Veterans Day ceremony in Jeffersonville over the weekend.

Wayne Black, who was named to his post in July, headlined Saturday’s event organized by a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at First Christian Church of Jeffersonville.

“It is definitely an honor and a privilege to serve as a brigadier general,” Black said, adding that the honor was bestowed after a strenuous selection process.

Black, 51, Indianapolis, began his military service as a soldier in the U.S. Army in 1984, and later transferred into the Indiana National Guard in 1996. He said he was honored to be invited to attend the ceremony, not only to be recognized, but to show his support for fellow veterans.

“I am very supportive of our veterans and think we should all strive to recognize those individuals that have given of themselves in order to support and serve our country,” he said.

Black has served tours in Korea and Germany, and has been deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Desert Storm. He said one of the best ways for a person to show support to veterans requires very little effort and can make a big impression.

“A simple ‘thank you,’” Black said. “It really does go a lot further than people think.”

He said he receives appreciation for his service from people throughout the year, not just around Veterans Day. “I think citizens in general show their support daily,” Black said. “As a military service member, I think that one of the greatest honors is getting support from the people you serve.”

Black said he hopes his accomplishment, not only professionally, but as an African-American, of becoming the first flag officer in the Indiana National Guard, will serve as an example to others.

“I think part of my responsibility is to coach others, be that symbol out there to say, ‘Hey, this is achievable, that there are not any ceilings,’ if you will, as long as you work hard and do your job to the best of your abilities,” Black said. “Nothing is impossible.”

Black said he comes from a military family that has proudly watched his career evolve. “For me to rise to the ranks of brigadier general, that was very special for them,” he said. U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., was one of several area leaders who spoke during the Veterans Day ceremony.

“I think it is important to honor our nation’s veterans in every possible venue,” Young said.

He also said the NAACP is deserving of credit for taking the time and effort to host the event.

“The NAACP is dedicated to improving the community, the state and making the country better,” Young said. “In a sense, it is that animating spirit that causes so many people to join the military and sacrifice their time and lives on behalf of everything we hold dear.”

State Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, was also part of the ceremony and said Black’s accomplishment is encouraging to service members and civilians, alike.

“We can’t forget the men and women that have given the sacrifices of not only time away from their families, but those who have given their lives,” Stemler said. “It is only fitting that we remember our veterans, those who are living and those who have gone on. It is the least we can do to show respect towards them.”

Clark County Circuit Court Judge Dan Moore was asked to introduce Black during the event.

“I believe that we always need to remember that we have a mixture of a civilian and military component in our government, and we have our freedoms because of our soldiers,” Moore said.

He said it was impressed with Black’s record and what he has achieved so early in his life.

“We need to do this more often to commemorate these veterans who gave us this very unique experience in democracy that works,” Moore said of the event.

Bob Bottorff, Clark County Democratic Party chairman and Clark County/Jeffersonville NAACP member, served as the ceremony’s emcee.

“I think that the fact that we have an African-American who has advanced to the level of general, from Indiana, is an accomplishment for anyone,” Bottorff said. “I see it also as a testament to the leadership of President Obama, and a testament to the advancement our society has made.”

Speakers at the ceremony also included Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and state Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville.