MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The secretary of the United States Air Force spent some time at Maxwell Air Force Base Tuesday to remember and honor someone who was a different kind of soldier in her own right.
65 years ago, Rosa Parks politely but firmly said “no” on a Montgomery city bus, a “no” that reverberated around the world.
“She was not tired. She was tired of giving in,” said Col. Eries Mentzer.
But long before the famous stand on the bus, Parks worked at a hotel at Maxwell Field in 1941.
“Fourteen years prior to the Montgomery bus boycott, Miss Parks worked here as a civilian airman at what was then called Maxwell Field,” said Mentzer.
“It was here on Maxwell Field she experienced integrated transportation,” said Mentzer.
On Tuesday, military leaders along with city officials remembered Parks with a memorial and a color guard tribute.
“Today we salute Miss Rosa Parks, once a civilian member of the United States Army Air Corps and forever a civil rights icon,” said United States Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.
Parks died 15 years ago at the age of 92. Fifteen years later her quiet demeanor and one-word defiance still resonate, still tell the story of what moral courage can do.
“The power of the human spirit to make a difference,” said Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson.
It was one year ago when Montgomery unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks near the fountain at the foot of Dexter Avenue in Montgomery.