AFRO hororees Maj.Gen. Janeen Birckhead (left) Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Woods and Col. (Ret. Edna W. Cummings. (AFRO photos / James Fields(

AFRO reprints book ‘This is Our War’

By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer,

On Nov. 7, members of the community came out to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore to honor generations of Black veterans and recognize three veterans who truly embody what it means to answer the call to service. Maj.Gen. Janeen Birckhead, Col. (Ret.) Edna W. Cummings, Maj. (Ret.) Edgar Brookins (posthumously) and Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Woods were all recognized at the AFRO’s Veterans Day event “This is Our War: A Salute to Our Veterans.” The Morgan State University ROTC Program also received special recognition.

Birckhead currently serves as The Adjutant General of Maryland and Cummings is a Six Triple-Eight Congressional Gold Medal champion, who played an instrumental role in the women receiving national recognition. The retired colonel has contributed to the reprinting of a 1945 AFRO original book, “This is Our War.” 

The book is a compilation of select stories from AFRO war correspondents who traveled to Europe in efforts to capture on the ground coverage of World War II. Cummings shared why it is so important that we continue to tell the stories of Black veterans.

“Our Black veterans stories are important because it connects us to a heritage of service. There is a basic history of veterans’ contributions to wars but the heritage makes it personal,” explained Cummings. “If our Black veterans don’t tell these stories, that heritage is lost and our communities can’t connect to it. We want our communities to connect not only to the history but to the Black heritage of veteran service.” 

The AFRO book, “This is Our War,” reprinted by Black Classic Press, is now available upon request by calling 410-554-8200 or emailing

Maryland’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Woods served as the keynote speaker for the event and he expressed similar sentiments to Cummings, noting that telling the stories of our Black veterans and books like ‘This is Our War’ are necessary in order to truly honor them. 

“One of the things I’ve noticed in my work at the Maryland department of Veterans Affairs is that people of color and women often under utilize the benefits they have earned from serving in the military and many times they don’t even identify themselves as veterans,” shared Woods. “I think that’s because there hasn’t been a full range of stories about veterans told. The work done at the AFRO helps tell a broad range of stories of those who’ve served in the past.”