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As we celebrate those who have willingly sacrificed so much in the service of freedom, I want to take a little time to honor men and women of color whom have served. Not because they are more special than any other service member, but because of the extraordinary circumstances many had to overcome historically in order to serve in the first place. In some conflicts, Black men put their lives on the line for American freedom knowing that when they returned home they would be treated as less than equal. They went anyway. I find that particular sacrifice unknowable.

I think the only man ever to call me an American, and say it like I was as good as any American he was likely to find, was a little Jewish man. We took our trucks to get them out the concentration camps (Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau, Mauthausen and Birkenau). My eyes never saw a worse sight in my life than these people, dead and dying, and I may never understand how God could let any man do that kind of evil and ugliness to his fellow man. I had just go out of the truck and a Jewish man, who looked like a dead man walking, came right up to me. He called me “American” and he fell into my arms. I am ashamed to say I was afraid to touch him but he hugged me like nobody ever hugged me in my life. I looked at him and I wanted to cry because he looked so bad, and he looked at me like I was a big piece of candy. I would like to think this man liked me for being a good Christian, but I think he loved me for being an American.

S.Sgt.Willard Moore

3,438th Quartermaster Corps

1943-45

“Black Soldiers: The Unsung Heroes of World War II” by Christopher Paul Moore

I decided to ask Black service members to contact me with their feelings about serving in our military, and what they would want Americans to know about that service. I received answers from people who served in Korea and Vietnam to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not sure what I expected them to say, but one common thread I noticed running through each response was a fierce sense of patriotism and a gratefulness to have served.

Despite our community’s painful past in this country, Black men and women have always been dedicated to the cause of freedom. We spend so much time talking about what is wrong with the Black community.

Today I want to celebrate what is right.

These service members who responded today, and those they represent – they are what is right in our community. They are the best among us, and they remind me why Black America has been down but we have never really been out. Please take time to read these comments. Like me, I’m sure you will be struck by the honor and humility of these fine patriots.

Thank you for your service, Black America. Thank you to all who dared to put our lives ahead of their own. God bless you, and God Bless America.

Jones III, USAF  

I would want all Americans to remember the ones still serving in combat zones putting their lives in constant danger. I would also request donating to the Wounded Warriors or Disabled Vet programs, they are great need of any donation large or small. Being a Vet gives me pride that no one can take away, knowing that I willingly served my country in Vietnam in the USAF during the Nixon administration. It is a lifelong Brotherhood!

Ronald A. Bergeron Jr., United States Navy, 2001-2005

Veteran’s Day shouldn’t be treated as just another holiday…This should be a day where the people of this nation take a moment to stop everything that they are doing and just give thanks…We did what we did because we are grateful for what we have. Every day wasn’t perfect and everyone at some point struggled. But when it mattered the most, we all in some way banded together. We were strong not because of the weapons we had that were ready for combat; we were strong because of the bonds we built with each other.

Carl Pittman, USMC

As a USMC veteran and now long time law enforcement officer I have spent almost my entire adult life in the service of my country or community. I recognized a long time ago that there were things on this earth much more important than myself -God, family and country. That’s a big part of why the American soldier, sailor and Marine succeed again and again. God bless those who have served and those who are serving.

Anthony Davis, Army

I would say that it got me out of the path other Black men and women were on. Too many things that could have steered me away. I got discipline and a higher value for life having served.

Joshua Rivers USMC, 1999-2003

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, there are men and women deployed across the world either actively fighting or standing at the ready to fight for America. On Veterans Day, I would ask people to think about that sacrifice, and what it means to be away from everything you know and love. I believe that sacrifice should be rewarded with opportunity. Veterans deserve the opportunity to receive the health assistance they need, as well as the tools they need to have a successful transition to civilian life. Most veterans don’t expect a handout, they simply expect the opportunity to succeed.

Curtis Morrow, U.S.ARMY, Infantry, in Korea, and Paratrooper, with later stations in Japan (author of Black Warriors in Korea 1950/51)

My take might be a bit difference from wars fought now days.. One reason, in wars prior to Vietnam, we African -Americans had to fight for the rights to fight. Later, those who survived, had to fight for the civil-rights. We fought for other people and nation. Many memories (we who was there) we’ll carry to our graves. However, wars, are nothing like those made in Hollywood.

Tamika Reese, wife of the late Markeif C. Reese, USMC

I think the one thing that always stood out when Mark would share stories with us was the gratitude the civilians had when they saw the American soldiers. He said it’s all political what they show on television (how some civilians don’t welcome the US soldiers and vice versa). He even said he loved the children and how they would come up and give them (soldiers) little gifts. He felt he not just protected the US, but also the civilians in Saudi. A lot of people don’t realize that’s what some would do and that ‘s what makes them a true Veteran… you go beyond the call of duty as they say.

Vic Davis, father of the late Scott Davis, US Navy

Scott was a veteran and was proud to serve his country. I feel that serving our nation in that capacity develops character with in the hearts and lives of young men that few other experiences are able to accomplish. To have something that you are willing to give your life for is very rare in today’s world and serves to combat the me-centered culture that is so prevalent. God rest his soul and all the others who were willing to give so much.

Carlton Hinds, US Navy

The thing that most effected me was that everywhere I went, I saw something and/or met someone who made it all worth it. I met and served with some of the greatest human beings ever… I guess I would hope that we as Americans be grateful and thankful for all that we have because of those that served, and fought and died for us. Maybe they did it for selfish reasons, maybe not, but they did their duty. I am so grateful to be a small part of that legacy.

Shawn Egg, USAF

I will have to admit that serving my country was truly an honor. At times it seemed like “just a job,” but there were more times that made it way more than that. Times when a civilian would come up to me out of the blue to say, “Thank you for your service!” and shake my hand or give me hug. Or when I go to pay for my food and I’m told it’s already paid for. Without realizing it I feel as though I set a big example for my kids in what it means to Proudly Serve! I remember I used to get so embarrassed whenever my parents would brag to people about me being in the Air Force, but once my son joined I knew that feeling they felt! On this Veteran’s Day, and everyday, I hope that Americans can always be proud, happy, thankful, as well as grateful to those of us who have served and is still serving; those who have lost their lives while doing so, and also continue to support all service men, women, and their families as well because they play a major part! If I had to do it all over again I surely would!

Greg M. USMC 

I would want [people] to not take the blessings of the freedoms of this great country for granted. Everyone appears to be great at demanding their rights, but nobody seems to appreciate where those freedoms come from. It comes from our willingness to fight to ensure and preserve them. The all volunteer military is part and parcel to that strength.

Wayne Dupree , USAF @WayneDupreeShow

Actively protecting this country during the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia gave me a new appreciation for loyalty and dedication to protecting people I might never know or meet. I joined up because I didn’t want to grow up in a community where it seems there were dead-end jobs…Americans have lost the patriotism spirit that loomed so large years ago. We must get that back if we are to move forward. This is the land of the free, home of the brave, this is my country, land that I love. I love the flag that I fought for…we all bleed red, white and blue.

3 Responses

  1. Linda Nitzschke

    I hold veterans in such high regard, and I am in awe of their courage and service. I consider our veterans the best of the best Americans. They are obviously proud individuals….and they dang well deserve to feel that way. I salute you all, and you have my undying gratitude…I wish I could thank you all in person!!!!!! God bless you!

    Reply
  2. BBG

    I read all of these and it became very apparent that these were not black people responding but United States Service people. Nobody mentioned their race except the wonderful person who was thankful that serving allowed him to see above his race. “I would say that it got me out of the path other Black men and women were on. Too many things that could have steered me away. I got discipline and a higher value for life having served.” We all have to remind ourselves daily that exterior appearances do not have anything to do with our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. So simple and yet look how it has shaped our daily existence. I feel that people, all people, that use the color of our skin as a criteria for who I get to know and share my life and country with are stealing the reason we are all put on this earth from us and I have had enough. Kira, I love you dearly and follow all your posts with respect, but your even starting this as something that race might play a part in seems somehow wrong. All service people are going to return from a conflict where they have had to live up to enormous standards. Their bodies have been abused and their psyches have been stretched to places no mind should have to go. They are then going to have to walk down the street with people ignorant of their experiences. They say there are no atheists in fox holes and I guess there are no enemies in fox holes. I heard these wonderful people refer to others who were joined together by the conflict they found themselves in. That they were black, Jewish, Syrian, and so forth didn’t seem as impressive in the middle of war as it does when we are carving out a niche for ourselves in our personal lives. Thank you to all of you who served and I vow to never let another person separate me from a fellow American because of the color of their or my skin. After reading these I will also try to remind myself that if I am looking at my skin color, it is because I haven’t looked beyond it to what I really am capable of feeling for and giving to my fellow man. A Vet doesn’t have to worry about that.

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