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A Powerful Political Ad By Clinton

My late Father in Law was on the beach on D-Day in Normandy. One of my late Uncles was hit driving landing craft onto the beach at Anzio, and would later be part of the infantry which freed several of the Nazi death camps. Another Uncle served in the Philippines…So Trump’s line about McCain “Being a hero only because he was captured” is particularly insulting.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in The Clown Bus

 

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On This Memorial Day – Remembering Those Who Fought to End Slavery

There are a lot of Southern Myths about the Civil War and Antebellum South, and what life was like in the period leading up to the War. The root of the war was economic. By 1860, over 60% of the GDP, and near 80% of the trade was generated by the South. And just about every penny of that money was built and fully enabled by slavery. It is no mystery why the Articles of Secession by every Southern State lists the cause of their actions as to maintain slavery.

The South was by no means monolithic as the Southern Myth would have you believe. And it was a dangerous place, with rebellion seething just under the surface. One of the few things which kept the slave master’s cruelty in check was the distinct possibility that ol’ Massa might “fall off his horse and break his neck”. There were hundreds, if not thousands of slave rebellions, and the risk was so great that during the Revolutionary War the Southern States supplied few troops to fight the British…Because they were needed at home to keep the slave rebellions in check. The sight of Haitian Troops marching to Savannah to attack British forces holding the city must have sent chills down the spines of Southern slave owners.

Further the South wasn’t monolithic. Large regions, especially the Appalachians, had no real economic ties to slavery, making the western Southern States a battleground between pro and anti-slavery forces. If you examine the maps of the Shenandoah campaign between Union General Phil Sheridan and confederate General Stonewall Jackson, you will find that there are areas conspicuously avoided by the rebs, You will find the same in certain areas of North Carolina. Those areas weren’t “confederate friendly”.

This Memorial Day we should celebrate those who fought to put down the rebellion, and ultimately end slavery. Over 100,000 of whom were white Southerners, and 260,000 of whom were black, often escaped slaves.

100,000 From Dixie Fought for the North in the Civil War

In all the recent debate about erasing Confederate history, no one talks about the history the South itself has erased, such as the many Southerners who fought for the Union.

Earlier this past week a judge ruled that the city of Louisville, Kentucky can proceed with the removal of a Confederate monument near the campus of the University of Louisville. Arguments against removing Confederate monuments over the past year have often claimed that in doing so communities run the risk of erasing history. What has been universally overlooked, however, is that the push to establish monuments to the Confederacy during the postwar years helped to erase the history of those white and black southerners who remained loyal and were willing to give their lives to save the Union.

Southern Unionism took many forms during the Civil War. Some disagreed with the right of a state to secede from the Union at the war’s outset while others grew weary of the Confederacy in response to a number of factors, including a Conscription Act in 1862 that exempted large slaveowners, the impressment of horses or mules for the army, and a “tax-in-kind” law that allowed the government to confiscate a certain percentage of farm produce for military purposes. Others in places like Appalachia and other highland regions that included few slaves saw little value in supporting a government whose purpose was the creation of an independent slaveholding republic.

Resistance to the Confederacy also took many forms throughout the war. The release of the movie, The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey next month, will introduce audiences to Newton Knight, who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi. Some joined clandestine political organizations such as the Heroes of America, which may have contained upwards of 10,000 members. Networks of communication kept resistors in touch with one another and their activities throughout the region. Unionists risked arrest by Confederate officials, ostracism from within the family, and violent reprisals from the community.

It is impossible to know just how many white southerners remained loyal to the Union during the war given disagreements over its very definition, but we do know that somewhere around 100,000 southern white men from Confederate states, except for South Carolina, served in the U.S. military. East Tennessee supplied somewhere around 42,000 men, but other Confederate states yielded significant numbers, including 22,000 from Virginia (and West Virginia) and 25,000 from North Carolina. The First Alabama Cavalry, which was considered one of the toughest units in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army, took part in his “march” through Georgia and the Carolinas in 1864-65.

The decision to express one’s loyalty to the Union by joining the army was often a painful one to make from the lowliest private to some of the highest-ranking officers. While the story of Robert E. Lee’s decision to resign his commission in the U.S. army, rather than betray his home of Virginia, is often told and re-told in tragic prose, others grappled with the same decisions and yet chose to remain loyal. The man who offered Lee command of the U.S. army in 1861 was another Virginian by the name of Winfield Scott. Scott, whose military career stretched back to the War of 1812—including a failed presidential bid in 1852—was the highest-ranking general at the beginning of the war. Scott’s decision was no less difficult than Lee’s and yet he remained loyal and although too old to take command in the field, he helped formulate military policy that ultimately proved successful in subduing the rebellion.

General George Henry Thomas, also from Virginia, became one of the most successful generals in the war and saved the Union army from being completely routed on September 19, 1863, earning him the nickname the “Rock of Chickamauga.” His loyalty to the nation cost him his family, who refused to speak with him ever again and even turned his picture against the wall. Very few monuments to the service of these men and others like them, who defied family, friends, and community for the sake of the nation, can be found in the former Confederate states. And yet the removal of some Confederate monuments has caused some to worry about erasing history.

The other significant Southern bloc that voiced their loyalty to the Union and commitment to crushing the rebellion was the region’s slave population. From the beginning of the war, and in the shadow of a Supreme Court that as recently as 1857 ruled that free and enslaved blacks could not be citizens of the United States, African Americans offered their services to the military. Beginning in 1862 along the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, former slaves rushed into the first all black regiments. By the end of the war roughly 150,000 former slaves fought and died to save this nation. They did so under the most harrowing conditions. Black soldiers were massacred on battlefields and even sent back into slavery at places like Fort Pillow in Tennessee and at the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia by Confederates, who refused to treat them as legitimate soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough, their own government refused to pay them what white soldiers earned. Only sustained protests that lasted more than a year and continued demonstrations of bravery on the battlefield led Congress to correct this injustice in the summer of 1864.

Southern Unionists, both black and white, may have celebrated Confederate defeat, but they continued to be persecuted owing to their wartime beliefs and actions by terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Life was especially difficult for former slaves, who fought for the Union and now hoped to exercise the right to vote, own land, or run for public office. Their sacrifice for the Union ended in the rise of Jim Crow state governments by the turn of the 20th century.

After the war, as white Southerners erected monuments to their Confederate dead they also erected monuments to their former slaves, only they recalled not brave men who fought to preserve the Union, but their loving former “servants” who remained loyal to master and their Lost Cause. The very act of monument erection helped to erase this history for much of the 20th century.

The removal of Confederate monuments need not result in the erasure of history. In fact, it may for the first time create the intellectual and physical space to commemorate and remember a new narrative of the past, one that corresponds more closely to the long and rich history of service and sacrifice to this nation that is recalled each year on Memorial Day.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Denied Valor of Black WWII Soldier(s)

One of the thigs they ignore in all of the movies about D-Day is black troops were there. Hitting Omaha beach in the first waves was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion A Company made up of roughly 500 men. At Utah Beach were  the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company B, 582nd Engineer Dump Truck Company, the 385th Quartermaster Truck Company, and the 490th Port Battalion with its 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th Port Companies made up of 1200 men. Supporting the British at Gold Beach were 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company C.

‘Negro’ D-Day Hero Overlooked for Medal of Honor

The faded, type-written piece of paper was buried in a box of 70-year-old documents at a presidential archive, but after it was recently unearthed, the fragile paper shined a spotlight on what a history detective called an injustice that lingers on from the Second World War – that of some black heroes who fought, but were forgotten.

“Here is a Negro from Philadelphia who has been recommended for a suitable award… This is a big enough award so that the President can give it personally, as he has in the case of some white boys,” stated the 1944 U.S. War Department memo to the Franklin D. Roosevelt White House.

The memo was written about Army Cpl. Waverly Woodson, Jr., and the “suitable award” important enough for Roosevelt to consider personally giving Woodson was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award given for valor. It would recognize his heroic actions as a combat medic on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, during the first hours of the Allies’ D-Day invasion of Europe.

But Woodson, who was black, never received the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, the military’s second-highest honor. Now his family, with the help of the author of a new book on his unit and a sympathetic congressman, are trying to restore and highlight a page erased from the history of the Greatest Generation by requesting the Medal of Honor be finally given to him.

“It’s never too late. It’s always possible to right a wrong. We need to let the future generations know what happened in World War II. The younger generation doesn’t even know what World War II was,” Woodson’s widow, Joann, told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday, two days before President Obama is scheduled to bestow a Medal of Honor on a veteran of the War in Afghanistan.

Joann’s late husband, who went by “Woody” and died a decade ago, had been a combat medic with the Army’s all-black segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion and saved dozens, if not hundreds, of troops on the battle-ripped landing area known as Omaha Beach, the stretch of coastline that saw the worst fighting on D-Day. Instead of the highest distinction or the DSC, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest individual military honor.

No records have survived to explain why Woodson was denied a White House ceremony presided over by FDR to receive the Medal of Honor. But one fact remains: not one of the hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who served during World War II received the Medal of Honor at the time.

It wasn’t until 1997 that seven black troops from World War II were given the Medal of Honor by President Clinton, but Woodson was not among them. Woodson, like 16-18 million other soldiers, lost all of his military records in the infamous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

That is, until the Philleo Nash memo was discovered.

“It was tucked in voluminous folders inside dusty boxes,” Linda Hervieux, author of the new book, “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and Overseas,” told ABC News in an interview.

It was Hervieux who discovered the 1944 memo at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. It was written by War Department aide Philleo Nash to a colleague, which is the only surviving record known to exist regarding Woodson, who was described in newspapers that served the African-American community in 1944 as the “No. 1 Invasion Hero.” Hervieux spent five years researching her book on Woodson and his outfit, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion.

Nash was an assistant director in the Office of War Information and wrote the typed page as a memo to Jonathan Daniels, a Roosevelt White House aide. Nash wrote that Woodson’s commanding officer had recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the office of U.S. Gen. John C. H. Lee in Britain had upgraded the recommendation to the highest decoration.

“Something happened between his commanders deciding he should get the Distinguished Service Cross and be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, but we don’t know what because those records are no longer there,” Hervieux said. “But Waverly Woodson’s heroics on Omaha Beach were clearly ignored and forgotten because the Army was racist to its core.”

Woodson’s little-known Barrage Balloon Battalion was responsible for hoisting huge balloons on the front lines of Normandy, France in an effort to deter German fighter planes from strafing or dive-bombing the infantry, Hervieux recounts in her book.

As a combat medic in the battalion, Woodson fought to save wounded and dying American troops, black and white alike, he was hit by shrapnel in the leg and buttocks but kept working.

“At that time,” Woodson once told an interviewer, “they didn’t care what color my skin was.”

In her book, Hervieux writes, “Throughout the day and night and into the next day, Woodson worked through his pain to save lives. He pulled out bullets, patched gaping wounds, and dispensed blood plasma. He amputated a right foot.”

Hervieux describes Woodson as the 320th’s “undisputed hero,” continuing to save lives during the invasion assault despite being seriously wounded by shrapnel. (When a mine blew up next to the landing craft he was on) After another medic slapped a dressing on his leg, Woodson later recalled wisecracking, “Close. Mighty close.”

Then, after resuscitating another four drowning men, 30 hours after he landed on Omaha Beach, Hervieux said Woodson “collapsed.”

His widow, Joann, now 86 herself, said she married a hero, even if discrimination in the era of Jim Crow left him forgotten by history for decades.

“That’s the kind of man he was,” Joann Woodson told ABC News on Tuesday from her home in Clarksburg, Maryland. “He was dedicated. Under fire, I don’t think he thought about it — his own safety.”

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Black History

 

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Luke Weathers, Jr… Tuskegee Airman

A sad note on the very week a long awaited movie about the exploits of th Tuskegee Airmen is released – Ace Pilot Luke Weathers was interned at Arlington Cemetery. During the War, at least 47 Pilots were awarded Purple Hearts for injuries received on combat missions. While most folks equate he Red Tails with the P-51 Mustang Aircraft, the Tuskegee Airmen also flew the Curtis P-40 in North Africa, the Bell P-39 Air Cobra, and the deadly P-47 Thunderbolt – which actually sank a German Destroyer, and was the first plane to get the distinctive “Red Tail” livery.

Luke Weathers Jr., Tuskegee airman, buried at Arlington as ‘Red Tails’ movie released

On the same day that retired Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. took his resting place among other war and military heroes, his real-life story as a World War II aviator played out on movie screens across the country.

Weathers was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in a service that began with a flyover of four F-16 jets in the Missing Man formation, a special honor reserved for pilots, by the 113th Wing of the D.C. Capital Guardians, the same unit that guards the airspace over the nation’s capital.

Weathers died Oct. 15 in Tucson, Ariz., of pneumonia at age 90. His burial coincided with the official opening in theaters of “Red Tails,” a George Lucas-produced movie retelling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen who debunked widely held beliefs that black pilots were incapable of fighting in combat.

Shortly after the flyover, in which one of the three jets departed from formation, a caisson pulled by six horses carried Weathers’ body to his burial spot amid hundreds of the stark marble tombstones that cover the grounds of the national cemetery. An Air Force band accompanied the wagon, its drummer thumping a solemn beat as family followed on the chilly, overcast Friday morning. Family members wore red ties and scarves, as they had at Weathers’ Memphis funeral, as a nod to the aviators who painted their aircrafts’ tails red to set themselves apart.

Luke Weathers III, 61, said his father and other black Americans who fought in World War II did so to prove they were men, “and then they wanted their country to love them, but that didn’t happen, either.” Friday’s ceremony, however, finally delivered recognition of his father as a national hero, Weathers said.

This kind of attention to the Tuskegee Airmen is what the elder Weathers wanted throughout his life, said his daughter, Trina Weathers Boyce. Weathers was not vain, but he wanted to share the lessons of the airmen’s courage in war, their struggles for equality and their victory over a wartime enemy and over racism, she said.

“He would talk about his hard trials and tribulations to others, to children, because he never wanted us to feel like this (racism) is a reason we couldn’t make it,” Weathers Boyce said in a telephone interview Thursday. “He would tell us nothing good comes easy. He’d say there are going to be barriers … and you can overcome them.”

Before the Tuskegee Airmen were formed in 1941, black men were forbidden to fly for the U.S. military, even though they could be drafted. After years of struggle, the Army Air Corps began to allow African Americans to train for flight, albeit in still-segregated units.

Many of the Tuskegee airmen, which included navigators, mechanics, medical personnel and others in support roles, trained from 1941 to 1949 at the Tuskegee Institute, which was founded by Booker T. Washington and was already home to an aeronautical engineering program.

More than 900 Tuskegee Airmen were U.S. pilots, said Trent Dudley, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who is president of the East Coast Tuskegee Airmen Inc. chapter. An estimated 250 to 300 Tuskegee airmen are still alive. The exact number is not known because some have not registered with chapters.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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