Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fighting for Freedom: A History of Service

Dorrie Miller

African-Americans have every reason to celebrate Memorial Day. Blacks held their first Memorial Day parade in 1865 and recognize the services of our men and women in uniform throughout our country's history. Craving freedom, just as every other American, we have demonstrated our willingness to fight and die for it.

A runaway slave of African and Native American heritage fell to his death on March 5, 1770 while standing up to the British against unfair taxation policies from the British Parliament.Crispus Attucks is considered by some to be the first American, of any color, to fall in defense of what would come to be seen as our American ideals. 

During the American Revolution, 5000 African Americans fought against the British. Five per cent of the American Soldiers fighting at Bunker Hill were Black. Among these, Salem Poor, a Black man was commended for acts of bravery and was later honored by the United States Postal Service with a postage stamp.

Charles Young was the first Black man to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was the first of his race to achieve the rank of colonel in the U. S. Army and when he died, he was the Army's highest ranking Black soldier. Roscoe Robinson Jr., class of 1951, U. S. Military Academy, became the first African American officer to rise ti the rank if 4 star General.

Ruben Rivers and Charles L. Thomas received the Medal of Honor in 1997, 50 years after their heroism during World War II. Dorrie Miller, a cook in the U. S. Navy, distinguished himself during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first to be awarded the Navy Cross. The Tuskegee Airmen, nicknamed the Red Tails, were America's first Black military pilots. On 29 March 2007, the
Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded a Gold Medal by Congress at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda for outstanding and dedicated service.

Colin Powell served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired from the military as a 4 star General. He went on to become the 65th Secretary of State.

Last, but not least is Grey Gadson, who served in Iraq in 2007. Grey is a double amputee who lost his legs to a roadside bomb, but went on to a role in the recent movie "Battleship".

These are but a few of the nation's heroes. Today we honor and appreciate the sacrifices and service of all who served. May God bless our men and women in the armed forces.

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