photo courtesy of Bluedharma via Flickr

Amidst a sea of horrible tragedies today, it is an honor to post the following story:

Tuskegee airmen, black aviator heroes of World War II, awarded Congressional Gold Medal

President George W. Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen one of the nation’s highest honors for fighting to defend their country despite the bigotry they faced at home before and after World War II.

I don’t even know if schools or parents teach about the Tuskegee Airmen anymore, but they were a big deal when I was coming up. I had the privilege to actually meet a group of them when I was a kid, and my mother was so proud. She would constantly remind me of this meeting well into my adulthood because of their tremendous and unsung contribution to American history.

For those unfamiliar with the Airmen, (from its website):

The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen, at a time when there were many people who thought that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. They came from every section of the country, with large numbers coming from New York City, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America at the best of his ability.

As is often noted about black military service, it was no easy task for these men to join the armed forces. Racism affected their entry into the service and their return home. The destructive effects of racism and segregation hurt not only these black airmen, but the US military. Again from the site:

During this period, many white units were undermanned and needed qualified people but were unable to get the experienced black personnel because of the segregation policy.

Well it’s a good thing we are in the 21st century and have learned our lesson right? We’d never sabotage our mission’s success by discriminating against qualified people who could get the job done. No, of course we wouldn’t. This is the new America.

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