HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY TO ALL OF OUR VETERAN’S OF WAR AND TO OUR TROOPS!
Years ago, as this country went through turbulent periods in the area of race relations…at a family gathering my Uncle John (born in the 1920’s) announced proudly: I Love the U.S. A.! Forget going back to Africa…I’ve never been there and don’t want to go!”
Now, this made sense to me…I wanted to yell out: “AMEN UNCLE JOHN! I LOVE THE USA TOO!” But, it would take me years to get more vocal about my thoughts. It wasn’t because of the United States…it was because someone in my circle might misunderstand and think I was anti-Africa. I wasn’t, but at the time I hadn’t been delivered from the opinions of others. (I have now.)
Everybody laughed. Everybody sort of kept their thoughts to themselves, but we all sort of slowly turned to face the more militant family members to see how they took it. Well, it appeared as though some may not have liked what they termed an “anti-Africa” statement. However, out of respect for the fact that Uncle John always meant what he said and could care less what others thought…they said nothing.
Uncle John put us all to the test; he kept saying it! He made us confront our true beliefs. Everytime he said it; I reflected on the good things here in the United States of America. The list was long.
A close family member of an older generation said they understood why Jeremiah Wright said what he said. I was in a good mood so I didn’t get mad. Here was an opportunity for me to share some wisdom. I explained that No, I didn’t understand why Jeremiah Wright said what he said; a person can “choose” to look at life pessimistically or optimistically. Furthermore, from a spiritual perspective…we are just passing through so the stuff that happens here shouldn’t bother any of us. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t do that. It’s a sign and a test of spiritual maturity that many fail. I also explained that I am very concerned about him using expletives in the pulpit and or sanctuary. That just can’t be done. To me, that’s the part that people should have been upset about.
I’m sure that God is concerned too. Rev. Wright probably repented (I hope so) already and so maybe this point is moot.
BACK TO THE STORY:
Uncle John had lived a long life, had a lot of experiences…even in the Army back when times were tough for a Black man to be in the Army. He didn’t like it; but despite all of the bad history in his life…this country came out smelling like a rose.
THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
This country was at war during World War Two ; yet the opportunities for Black men to serve in certain positions were near slim and none. Around 1940 in the United States, there was talk that the United States would be look to train Black military airmen. When the call went out; Black men came from all over the country and those who scored high would become an “elite” force that would go down in history.
Those chosen would not be given special preferences. They would be trained in intelligence, engineering, operations, meteorology, and for officer vacancies. They would be trained gor many positions such as:
“aircraft and engine mechanics, armament specialists, radio repairmen, parachute riggers, control tower operators, policemen, administrative clerks and all of the other skills necessary to fully function as an Army Air Corps flying squadron or ground support unit.”
Close to 1,000 pilots were trained and nearly 500 became overseas pilots!
The pilots who didn’t go overseas were trained at Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan and reportedly suffered immense racism. These men were all officers and were denied officers privileges. Unfortunately, the Air Force’s reported solution to strife and controversy was not to reinforce their rights as officers; but to transfer the Tuskegee Airmen. They were transferred to Godman Field, Kentucky where problems continued and then they were transferred to Freeman Field, Indiana where things went way out of control. It was 1945. Denied their rights and protesting these officers were arrested and threatened with court martial(s) that were eventually dropped. However, this incident remained on their military records for 50 years!
* Despite the controversy; the Tuskegee trained forces were considered superior and outstanding. Many credit their success with having a direct effect on President Harry Truman’s signing an executive order to integrate the Armed Forces!
A MOMENT IN HISTORY