Army Recognizes Diversity in Major Church

The US Army recently posted a personal interest story on Major Tom Church, operations officer for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. Church is part Chippewa Indian, and the article recognized the Army’s celebration of diversity:

The Army is a melting pot of diversity with people from all walks of life, uniting under one flag, to serve, protect, and defend the United States of America. The Army understands and it embraces such diversity by observing these different cultures throughout the year.

During the month of November, the Army recognizes the contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives with National Native American Heritage month.

Ironically, the term “melting pot” has been called a “racial microagression” because it allegedly assumes that people have to “assimilate” into a culture. Yet, Major Church seems to understand what it means to be an American — particularly as he serves in a cavalry regiment that has a “storied past’ with Native Americans:

We’ve come a long way. I’m an American – I just have ties to something else.

That’s an outstanding perspective on diversity. Individual Americans have their pasts and their stories, and those experiences bring diversity to military ranks. But they are still all united as Americans — regardless of their “differences.”

Perhaps one day the US military will similarly celebrate the value in religious diversity, even devoting official time to giving troops the ability to learn about each other’s religious diversity — and praising the diversity of those experiences and virtues. As noted, in contrast with other diversity months, the federal government recognizes only a single Religious Freedom Day each year, and it is rarely — if ever — even mentioned by the military.

As a side note, Major Church doesn’t give the etymology of his name — “Church” is probably a bit unusual for a Chippewa Indian — but he did mention this:

One such person…who Church always looked up to was his grandfather, Reverend Louis White-Eagle Church.

“My grandfather did a lot for the tribe, he had a big part in being a part of the Indian mission churches,” said Church.