Do blacks make good soldiers?
|Since I am retired military, when any conversation turns to matters involving the Armed Forces, both past and present, I have a tendency to jump in and add my two cents worth. This is what happened this past Independence Day weekend when I was asked the question, "What kind of soldiers were the black men in your outfit?"
My astute and diplomatic answer of course was, "They were no better and no worse than their white counterparts. I have seen excellent black soldiers and excellent white soldiers, and the reverse is also applicable."
After thinking about it for a spell, I would like to state that the black soldier has, in the past, received the short end of the stick when it comes to recognition for the bravery and professionalism they have displayed.
Due to a resurgence in the interest of Black History and the portrayal of such black regiments as the 54th Massachusetts, the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, and the Tuskegee Airmen, in prominent cinematic military roles, the public in general has begin to learn some of the truth that our history books failed to teach.
What many Americans still do not know is the degree in which the black servicemen and women have faithfully served a country, which is only now beginning to recognize their sacrifices.
We have started to learn about the hundreds of thousands of black troops who served with the Union Army during the Civil War. However, little is mentioned about the black Confederate Soldiers, those totally forgotten warriors.
The black soldier has served honorably in every war or police action American has been in since the Civil War.
On the American frontier during the Indian Campaigns, they were there.
When the Rough Riders went up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War, they were there.
In France during WWI, black doughboys won numerous unit citations and personal decorations from both the French and American Government.
During WWII, a black mess attendant named Dorie Miller shot down four Japanese planes at Pearl Harbor. During the Battle of the Bulge, 4,500 black soldiers volunteered for the desperate counter assault led by General Patton. Black soldiers won numerous Congressional Medals of Honor, our nations highest decoration, during WWII.
In Korea and Vietnam, black soldiers fought side by side with their white counterparts, equal witnesses to the horror and deprivations of war.
In Vietnam, the color of a man's skin meant nothing to the American fighting man. We finally learned that red blood flows from both bodies, that we were dependent upon each other for our very lives. I have personally saved the lives of many black soldiers, but my life has also been spared due to the bravery of several, "black brothers in arms."
From the Civil War to WWII, the black soldier was separated from his white counterpart, through bitter racism and ignorance.
But, since the 1960's we have made a remarkable turnaround in the military. Men and women are no longer judged by the color of their skin, but by the strength of their character and abilities.
There are no black, white, yellow, red or brown soldiers in our modern Armed Forces. There are privates, sergeants, captains, and generals, who have earned their ranks through service and ability.
This is as it should be. It will be great when the rest of American catches up with the Armed Forces.