ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) — Thursday, the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs honored African American men and women who served their country — even when their country did not always see them as equals.

The national anthem is commonly heard at the department in Rocky Hill. What isn’t played as often, however, is what is known as the “Black national anthem.”

It played Thursday as part of the department’s observation of Black History Month.

“[We are] recognizing the contributions of African Americans to this country both before and after this country was founded, notwithstanding the challenges and adversity and racism they faced,” veterans affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi said.

The above video is from an earlier newscast on Feb 23.

Officials said that facing that racism is a part of Black military history.

“We’ve all heard about Revolutionary War, Civil War soldiers who answered the call and fought for our country, even when the country was not fighting for them,” said Connecticut Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas.

Top officials from across the state were here to honor those who served, and to look towards the future.

“Every day, we try to strive to be a more perfect union,” said U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-District 5). “That’s what our founding document says.”

It’s an equality that so many Black veterans in the past never got to see.

Rep. Anthony Nolan (D-District 39), who is a Navy veteran, spoke on generational icons. One of those was Spencer Lancaster, who was in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Thomas’ father, twin brother and other family members have served in the military. She became emotional while talking about the impact it has on a family.

“It required sacrifice for the family and friends of all of them, but I’ve also seen firsthand the opportunities that the armed services have provided to African Americans,” she said.