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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Harlem Hellfighters
In Response To: Harlem Hellfighters ()

Hello, again I would like to stress the important issue for me of this period was the feeling and attitude of our grandparents and how they viewed there place in this land, often forgotten in the history books.The words that follow of Marchbanks, Frierson and Allen are so important not great noteables of the day just plain African American soldiers.

The next lines are from Book #3 of a series I have done called "For The Love Of Liberty."

“We stopped over in Gibralta until July 6th and then left for little ole New York, arriving July 25th, and dropped anchor off the quarateen station early in the morning of the 25th. About 2:30 on the afternoon of the same day the “Kilpatrick” slipped her nose in dock at the foot of Wall Street while the regimental band stood on the forward deck and played “there is no place like home sweet home” Strong men, women, and children with hearts full of anxiety stood on deck gazing at the tall buildings the like of which had never been seen by many. Tears of joy flowed down the cheeks from the eyes of many as they gazed upon the land that gave them birth for the first time in many moons.” Vance Marchbanks Sr.1909

After 1900 the negative influence of racism overcame the positive force of the needs of defending our nation. It was a force that grew quickly in the first years of the 20th century. The new

social mores of white America, becoming a colonial power, the stationing of black soldiers close to cities, increased black militancy and their greater awareness of the racial situation, all worked to destroy the good life for black soldiers. African American soldiers like Sergeant major, Eugene P. Frierson of the 10th Cavalry, were well aware of the attitude of white America he wrote from Ft Huachuca, on the 28,of August 1914, “If there is any doubt on the part of any citizens as to our valor, courage, and obedience in the Army, I simply refer him to the records of the War Department, in Washington, DC....Men are not superior by reason of the accident of race or color. They are superior who have the best heart and the best brain. Superiority is born of honesty, of virtue, of charity, and above all of the love of liberty,” Black soldiers continued to perform the daily routine, but unfortunately for the most part the general public ignored them. As historical research has shown,”The discrimination, segregation, and antipathy toward black soldiers and officers that occurred during World War I, should have been no surprise to any one familiar with the events of the previous twenty-five years.” Captain John Henry Allen, a former Battalion Sergeant Major of the 25th Infantry who died of pneumonia while on duty in France in 1919 wrote this poem of the colors of the 25th called the “Rings upon the Pike,” when he was a member of the regiment:

1.
“Tis but a banner of Azure blue goes floating by
Woven of silken threads, the Nations coat of arms a centerpice
The Standard on the right-her stars and stripes mount high
And all our hopes and all our strength for these!
2.
There is no need that we shall call them splendid
The rings upon the pike-they tell a tale
Of victories won; of how the brave defended
That standard and those colors-And not once did fail.
3.
Whether on Texas’ sun-baked plains
or in Dakota’s tumbled bad lands dear,
Marching through blinding snows and flooding rains
They met the Red Foeman, and without fear.
4.
To Keep the peace they stood, “The Men at Arms,”
And answerd every call their Chieftian sent
They beat back forest fires from settler’s farms
And held in leash the mobs on murder bent.
5.
And when there came a call to foreign wars,
Did these men falter , did they fail that day?
Look to the old men’s battle scares
And there upon the pike-San Juan
and the sea!
6.
And in the murky damps of old Luzon,
They builded camp fires all the way
From Caloocan to Bamban, and back and on!
Across the mountain trails unto the sea!
7.
And everywhere brought peace and happiness;
And everywhere they put the foe to flight,
And they who first engaged them in the fight,
Returned to lay their arms down and to bless.
8.
There is no need to call our colors splended,
The rings upon the Pike-They tell the tale.
It is that we as they who have defended,
Shall now defend them and shall never fail 69

Messages In This Thread

Harlem Hellfighters
Re: Harlem Hellfighters
Re: Harlem Hellfighters

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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