CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago native is now the highest-ranking person of color in Illinois National Guard history.
It was history in the making as Rodney Boyd became a major general Saturday, making him the highest ranking officer of color in the nearly 300-year history of the Illinois National Guard.
"I hope to inspire others that look like me to go out and just do those hard things, but do it with passion," Major General Boyd said.
The hometown hero's promotion comes as Chicago and the nation celebrate Black History Month.
"General Boyd is not here because of the color of his skin, he's here because of his drive. He's here because of abilities as a leader," said Major General Richard Neely, an adjunct general for the State of Illinois.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton officiated the Saturday ceremony at Carver Military Academy on the city's Far South Side. She said Boyd's promotion is the kind of milestone in Black history that should be celebrated.
"To be able to point out that this history will not be erased, we will continue to lift it up and we will continue to celebrate accomplishments of Black Americans," Stratton said.
Before moving up in rank, Boyd was already a brigadier general, who was the first African American officer to be selected as the assistant adjutant general Army to command the 10,000 soldiers of the guard.
"What wasn't thought possible years ago has happened," said James Wells, 8th infantry of the Illinois National Guard Association.
The general's wife of 32 years and his adult sons were on hand to help him receive his second star as the soldier credited his family for his success.
"When I heard all the speeches and I see how far he's come in this organization, it just filled by heart," said General Boyd's wife, Darlene Boyd.
A decorated combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Boyd began his military career in the Marine Corp. He later joined the Illinois Army National Guard and has had many leadership positions over his more than 35 years of service.
In civilian life, Boyd was the chief of the Bellwood Police Department and also worked in the private sector.
He's a Chicago Public Schools graduate and holds both bachelors and masters degrees.
"I am honored to wear that title as the first minority person to achieve this rank of major general," General Boyd said. "I just want to continue to wear it well and represent well."
The major general said he's going to get to work right away. One of his major goals will be to make the military more inclusive, especially for those of color.