AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: Response; Our soldiers and God
In Response To: Response; Our soldiers and God ()
Your message from the heart will touch everyone who reads your prose. It's difficult to shape an appropriate response to such a compelling observation about the history of African-American soldiers and the men who lost their lives in the Middle East.
As I read your words, I thought of an incident with a curator who was presenting the history of Harlem to a mostly white audience. I strongly disagreed with his opening photograph of Harlem's response to WW II...a riot. Ignoring my objections, he did it anyway. His patronizing arrogance spoke legions. African-Americans were incapable of dignity and patriotism. He didn't get it and I never had contact with him again.
Back to your inspiring words.
Our military history is always full of irony. Over the centuries, African-American men and women have given their lives to save a nation from tyranny. Nameless men fought in the wars during the Spanish conquest of North and South America. During the wars in Colonial America and the Civil War they fought valiantly for our country. But when the cannons finally fell silent, our citizenship took a back seat to the rights of immigrants who flooded our shores.
In both World Wars, African-American women and men suffered the indignities of an American racist army. They served and died in segregated units on foreign soil. While white soldiers were relieved during and between battles, units like the 369th in WW I, and the 761st in WW II, enjoyed no such privilege. Noted as some of the longest units in battle, they pushed on to free Europe and South East Asia from the despicable tyranny of Germany and Japan. When they returned home African-Americans were greeted with hostility and racism.
Returning veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars found that little had changed in their communities.
Well-meaning liberals love to bring up the question of our loyalty to our country. Foreigners ask the same. Why do you African-Americans continue to respond to the call to war?
Well why not?
This is our country and we were here centuries before your ancestors made "the big trip."
One of our rights as citizens is the right to die for our country.
Yes, African-American veterans will speak of the injustice of fighting a war on two fronts. But when pressed they will tell you to the man and woman, that this is their country. And no matter how bad it is, what we have achieved as a people could never happen in another country.
I hate war and during Vietnam, I participated in marches, signed petitions and argued with my parents and friends about its evil. Hey Hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today? Years later, I now applaud veterans in wheelchairs, without limbs, or the mentally wounded who were drafted or answered the call for war. Survey the homeless, the destitute, the drug abusers and you will invariably find too many Vietnam Vets.
I'm certainly no flag waver. But I bristle when I read or hear about the evil of the United States and that means us too. American arm chair critics far removed from the horror of Ground Zero have joined forces with European terrorist-hugging countries that incubated the cells that brought us 9/11. It pains me to see the young black and brown faces on Bennie McRae's memorial page and in read about mounting deaths in recent news. When I remember those innocent precious children who died on that plane in Virginia on 9/11, it breaks my heart. Those African-American babies didn't have a chance. Nor did my fellow New Yorkers of all colors who died down the street from me. September 11th has radicalized my thinking.
So is this new war justified? I have no definitive answer. I'm ambivalent at every turn. Do the men who killed our African-American soldiers view us as brothers and sisters of color? Ha! Guess again. We are the enemy. We are Americans.
Thank you, Tony for inspiring me to write down my thoughts.
K Wyer Lane
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