Each year, Black History Month gives us the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the contributions that African-Americans have made in all aspects of our Nation’s history, including within the armed services. Many have valiantly volunteered their lives to protect the freedoms of the citizens of a country that has not always provided them with those same freedoms. African-Americans have contributed to military life throughout the entirety of American history, serving in every conflict since the Nation’s inception. As of 2015, African-Americans made up 17% of active duty military members, more than their 13% share of the U.S. population. Many consider the first casualty of the Revolutionary War to be Crispus Attucks, a Black man shot during the Boston Massacre while protesting British oppression. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served as a spy for the Union Army and led troops in combat, in addition to her role helping hundreds escape slavery through the Underground Railroad. And, most recently, on January 22, 2021, Secretary Lloyd Austin became the first African-American to lead the Department of Defense.