Tag Archives: Army

Honor A Black Veteran Today

09Today is Veterans Day and no doubt you will hear praise, horror, and support, mostly from those who never served, but for those of us who did serve, I will tell you it is all happy horse sh$$t. They have never cared for the lives of people in theater or returning home. I am a veteran of Vietnam, a wounded soldier, spent months in a hospital in Japan, saw men wondered and die. I have yet to receive a thank you for what I did, and I am sure I am not the only one. War then as was every war was about money – plain and simple. Today everybody will say thank on social media or you might get a free meal somewhere.

Black people have served in every war waged by the United States. In fact, the first war, the revolutionary war, the first to die was a black man! Throughout the nation’s history, Black soldiers, sailors, and Marines have contributed conspicuously to America’s military efforts. From the Civil War through the Korean War, segregated Black units, usually officered by whites, performed in both combat and support capacities.

We must remember that it was not until 1948 President Harry Truman ordered the military establishment to desegregate. Although the Navy and Air Force accomplished integration by 1950, the Army, with the vast majority of Black servicemen, did not achieve desegregation until after the Korean conflict. Vietnam, then, marked the first major combat deployment of an integrated military and the first time since the turn of the century that Black participation was actually encouraged.

In 1964 Blacks represented approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population but less than 9 percent of the nation’s men in arms. The committee found uneven promotion, token integration, restricted opportunities in the National Guard and Reserves, and discrimination on military bases and their surrounding communities as causes for low Black enlistment. Before the government could react to the committee’s report, the explosion of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia changed the problem. An expanded military, a discriminatory draft, and other government programs brought not only increased Black participation but accusations of new forms of discrimination.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam unfolded against the domestic backdrop of the civil rights movement. From the outset, the use, or alleged misuse, of Black troops brought charges of racism. Civil rights leaders and other critics, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., described the Vietnam conflict as racist “a white man’s war, not a black man’s fight.” King maintained that black youths represented a disproportionate share of early draftees and that Blacks faced a much greater chance of seeing combat.

The draft did pose a major concern. Selective Service regulations offered deferments for college attendance and a variety of essential civilian occupations that favored middle and upper class whites. The vast majority of draftees were poor, undereducated, and urban blue-collar workers or unemployed. This reality struck hard in the Black community. Furthermore, Blacks were woefully underrepresented on local draft boards. In 1966 blacks accounted for slightly more than 1 percent of all draft board members, and seven state boards had no black representation at all.

“Project 100,000” a Great Society program launched in 1966, attempted to enhance the opportunities for underprivileged youths from poverty-stricken urban areas by offering more lenient military entrance requirements. It largely failed. Although more than 350,000 men enlisted under Project 100,000 during the remainder of the war, 41 percent were Black, and 40 percent drew combat assignments. Casualty rates among these soldiers were twice those of other entry categories. Few Project 100,000 inductees received training that would aid their military advancement or create better opportunities for civilian life.

In 1965 alone Blacks represented almost one-fourth of the Army’s killed in action. In 1968 Blacks, made up roughly 12 percent of Army and Marine total strengths, frequently contributed half the men in front-line combat units, especially in rifle squads and fire teams. I can attest to the fact that they bore a heavy share of the fighting burden, especially early in the conflict. You can forget that what you see in movies and documentaries, 80% of the soldiers I saw were black with white commanders.

Racial strife, rarely an issue among combat units because of shared risk and responsibility, became most evident in rear areas and on domestic installations. At the Navy base at Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), white sailors donned Ku Klux Klan-like outfits, burned crosses, and raised the Confederate flag. Black prisoners, many of whom were jailed for violent crimes, rioted at the U.S. Army stockade at Long Binh jail.

Blacks played a major role in Vietnam and, in the process, changed the complexion of the U.S. Armed Forces. Contrary to popular impressions, a large proportion of Black servicemen were well-trained, highly motivated professionals; some 20 received the Medal of Honor, and several became general officers. Not until Vietnam did this happen, because on about 15 years earlier the military was segregated.

Despite the likelihood of seeing hazardous duty, they reenlisted at substantially higher rates than whites. In 1964 blacks represented less than 9 percent of all U.S. Armed Forces; by 1976 they made up more than 15 percent of all men in arms. Although the percentage of Black officers doubled between 1964 and 1976, they still accounted for less than 4 percent of the total.

The participation of Americans of African descent in the U.S. military has a long and distinguished history. But although blacks have participated in all American wars, they have sometimes faced almost as bitter hostility from their fellow Americans as from the enemy. Lastly, they have had a harder time receiving earned benefits such as disability and GI Bill rights. So I say if you never served shut up because you probably don’t know what you are talking about! If I had it to do all over again I would never join this man’s military. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Brown Bomber

th (1)Joe Lewis Barrow was the first black heavyweight boxing to win and hold the crown sin the great Jackson at the turn of the century. He held the world heavyweight boxing champion title from June 22, 1937, until March 1, 1949. Known as the Brown Bomber, Lewis held the title belt for nearly 12 years, a boxing record, longer than any other boxer the history of the game and posted 25 successful title defenses.

Lewis was widely considered one of the greatest and most beloved boxers in the sport’s history was May 13, 1914 in the cotton-field country near Lafayette, Alabama. The son of a sharecropper, and the great-grandson of a slave, he was the eighth child of Munn and Lilly Barrow. His family life was shaped by financial struggle. The Louis kids slept three to a bed, and Louis’ father was committed to a state hospital when he was just two years old.

Louis had little schooling and as a teen took on odd jobs in order to help out his mother and siblings. The family eventually relocated to Detroit where Louis found work as a laborer at the River Rouge plant of the Ford Motor Company. For a time, Louis set his sights on a career in cabinet making. He briefly attended the Bronson Vocational School for training and in his off-time took violin lessons. But it was while at school that a friend recommended he try boxing.

While not an immediate success he debuted as a lightweight and was knocked down three times in his first fight but in that fight he showed promise. By 1934, he held the national Amateur Athletic Union light-heavyweight title and finished his amateur career with an astonishing 43 knockout victories in 54 matches.

Louis bruised his opponents with a crushing left jab and hook. By the end of 1935, the young fighter was showing that his amateur success was no fluke. He fought 14 bouts that year, earning nearly $370,000 in prize money. On June 19, 1936, Louis suffered his first professional defeat, a 12th round knockout to Max Schmeling, a German fighter and former heavyweight champion who’d earned the adoring praise of Adolph Hitler.

The defeat stung Louis, but it was offset by the chance to fight Jim Braddock on June 22, 1937 for the heavyweight crown. The Brown Bomber knocked out the defending champ in the eighth round setting the stage for a 12-year-run as the heavyweight king all the while becoming a sports icon for blacks and white across America.

Part of it could be chalked up to the sheer fact that fans loved a winner. Of Louis’ 25 title defenses, only three went the full 15 rounds. But in winning, Louis also showed himself to be a gracious, even generous victor. Louis, who enlisted in the Army in 1942, threw his support behind the country’s war effort and went so far as to donate twice his purse money to military relief funds.

He officially retired on March 1, 1949. A short-lived comeback, owed more in part because he was broke, soon followed. But Louis failed to capture his earlier magic. On October 26, 1951 he called it quits for good after Rocky Marciano knocked him out in the eighth round at Madison Square Garden.

The years after his retirement from the ring proved uneven for Louis. He was still a revered American figure, but money was a constant issue for him. In an effort to find some footing, he tried out a number of careers. He wrestled and partnered with a rival in setting up a chain of interracial food shops.

Lewis was not allowed to show any anger or to be too exuberant during his victories over white opponents. It was required of him to be humble. In 1970, his wife Martha committed Louis to a psychiatric hospital in Colorado because of his cocaine addiction and paranoia. He was later confined to a wheelchair following surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm. Louis was inducted to the Ring Magazine Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1982, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

There is a sad footnote to the illustrious career of one of the greatest sports stories in boxing history. For all that Lewis sacrificed for the country – the government hounded him for taxes from the early part of his career until he died. Only in America! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Does History Repeat Itself?

This is a powerful video that you must see!!! It explains how history repeats itself and what happens when power corrupts, and in the case of the last administration, was corrupt absolutely.

In a stunning indictment of sweeping policy changes during the Bush years, best-selling author Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth) makes a chilling case that American democracy is under threat. We must vote and not go back to the past.

Copy and Paste this link in your browser:

http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/the_end_of_america


The Civil War – Beware the Facts Might Change!!!

The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. This statement could not be more profound. I refer to history as His-Story.

If you are not aware, we are about to enter into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases out and out lies, as we mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This was a critical point in time because a divided nation faced a crisis. It started in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries fired upon federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day after 34 hours of shelling; the bloodiest war in the nation’s history had begun.

There is no question this was a significant event in the country’s history. However, we should be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. There will be a lot of misinformation that will surely come, as both sides of the debate relive this chapter of American history. So be prepared for the revisionists to create many illusions pertaining to the facts as they relate to the realities of Civil War history.

It’s already begun with a surge of activity, especially among conservatives, to adjust the story to reflect contemporary political positions. One prominent effort occurred in Texas when the state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the “Atlantic triangular trade.” Thankfully, after opposition, that idea was dropped.

There was a case in Virginia where the Department of Education conceded its error in allowing a misleading textbook to be used in classrooms. They, against opposition, allowed the history book to continue to be used and the offending passage remained. Even after admitting that the inaccurate passage was “outside of accepted Civil War scholarship.” The disputed passage was a gross falsehood that says two battalions of African American soldiers fought for the Confederacy under famed Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The department would go on to say that it anticipates teachers “will have no difficulty working around one objectionable sentence”.

Also in Virginia, a few years ago, the new Governor signed a proclamation honoring the Civil War and made no mention of slavery, which again after considerable controversy he revised the proclamation. Let me add that Richmond, Virginia was the home of the Confederate capital. Sure the First Amendment protects the Confederate sympathizers’ right to write this nonsense but it is up to us to do our due diligence to understand, although we were never taught the truth, that it is untrue.

Before I go any further, let’s be clear, the war was NOT fought to free the slaves. That narrative came much later when the north was not winning and needed a reason to allow colored solders to fight. Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, although not a proponent of slavery, had no desire to end slavery at the onset of the war. He was for the free-labor ideology of equal opportunity and upward mobility. The issue of slavery, as he stated, “was the morality and future of the slaves and of slavery”. He believed if the nation remained divided on the issue of slavery, the nation would not last. If you recall he borrowed a statement made by Jesus to support this position; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Actually, Honest Abe was considering the option of sending the slaves back to Africa or somewhere outside of America to solve the problem. IN FACT, as an experiment, he sent thousands to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This experiment was not successful because many became ill and died causing him to reevaluate the decision. He also had another plan, which was to acquire land in South America to host this unwanted population to include other locations as well.

On the other side, the south, secessionist, saw it this way. Their leader Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a major slaveholder, justified secession in 1861 as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration. Abraham Lincoln’s policy of excluding slavery from the territories, Davis said, would make “property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless . . . thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars.”

The Confederate vice president, Alexander Stephens said, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea… Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth.” These guys were very straightforward in their belief that the proper status of the Negro in America’s form of civilization, if free, would be the immediate cause of the rupture.

Views such as this continue today, from various quarters, because there remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race, slavery, or more specific states’ rights. The historian Douglas Egerton says, “The South split the Democratic Party and later the country not in the name of states’ rights but because it sought federal government guarantees that slavery would prevail… routinely shifted their ideological ground in the name of protecting free labor.” I believe it was all about states’ rights similar to today’s conservative perspective.

Let’s be clear slavery was about one thing – economics. The institution and the economics derived from it built America and that wealth made America a powerful force in the world as a result. Therefore, those who try to rewrite or obscure the reality of this evil do so wishing the greatest crime ever inflected upon a people had never ended or that it would return. I suggest that you listen carefully to those who use the code word “States Rights” and hear what they are not saying.

The Confederacy broken up the United States and launched a war that killed 620,000 Americans in a vain attempt to keep 4 million people in slavery does not confer honor upon their lost cause. It’s been 150 years of folks, like back then and now, trying to change the narrative to justify why the war was fought. Some say slavery. Some say tariffs. Others say the Constitution. I found this quote where one captured Confederate soldier, as he was being marched off to prison, was asked, “Why are you fighting?” He is said to have grunted, “Because you’re here.”

If I can remind you this sounds very similar to what the Tea Baggers and the conservatives are saying now! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


Legacy – A New Season

COMING SOON!!!

It’s been several years since “Just a Season” and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some that you cannot forget! “Legacy – A New Season” is the perfect complement to that statement. It is the sequel and the continuation of “Just a Season” and a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation concerning the African American struggle.

This long awaited saga to the epic novel “Just a Season” will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora, as told by a loving grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

http://johntwills.com


Bring The Troops Home


We often hear our leaders and politicians, particularly Republicans, talk about freedom of speech. My question is when are they going to make sense and begin to talk about this thing called reason. This article is one that I hope will cause you to consider such reason and logic as it relates to the quagmire of these WARS that, frankly, we cannot win and let your voice be heard. Say LOUDLY, if you support the troops – BRING THEM HOME – all of them.

I am extremely passionate about this topic because I speak from the perspective of someone who has carried an M-16 and have experienced war. In addition, my patriotism is validated by the Veterans Administration via compensation as a victim of war though a classification called disability. So I am not one who sat on a beach, did not serve honorably or one who watched it on the news from the sidelines talking about protecting America.

I can recall back in the day there was a popular song, “War”, recorded by Edwin Starr that had a poignant line that asked, “What is it good for? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” I concur with that sentiment wholeheartedly as someone who went to the land of the little people, as we use to call it – Vietnam. One of the fallacies then was “we were winning the war”. I never came to that conclusion being a live witness to that debacle, as history tells us it was. The reason for that war was suppose to stop Communism. Today, the reason, if it remains the same for more than a week, is to stop extremists. Sound familiar?

I don’t profess to be as smart as those charged with administering the war in Iraq or Afghanistan but what I do know is this: “you cannot conquer a people who are unwilling to be conquered”. For thousands of years many mighty nations have tried and all have failed, which is why Afghanistan is called the “Graveyard of Empires”. Our army is no doubt the mightiest army the world had ever known, yet these ragtag groups of guerrillas are beating us with slingshots. By that I mean, they have nothing but what they can carry to use against us.

I concluded that we are strangers in a place in which we do not understand the lay of the land or the people, and like Vietnam it is an untenable situation. We have lost too many lives and it is time to bring our troops home – NOW.

Over the years, there have been policies that have proclaimed wars on this or that. For example, in the 1960’s President Johnson proclaimed a “War on Poverty” and today there is more poverty than it was then. Nixon proclaimed a war on “Cancer” and today there are more forms of cancer than ever before. Ragan declared a “War on Drugs” and today there is a larger drug problem than ever before. Bush declared a “War on Terror” and today, eight years later, no end in sight. So I say, when they declare a “War on something” little success is achieved. I suppose its good propaganda but in these cases there has been no victory.

Let me close with this thought. The money that is spent on these wars in one week could solve the staggering unemployment crisis, which is near 10% and for African American’s it’s more than 15%. If we look closer, more than 50% of African American youth and nearly 50% of African American men are unemployed. The number of people in American without health insurance is near 50 million and growing. The infant mortality rate is off the charts and America’s percentage of people infected with HIV compares too many Third World countries. Then there is homelessness, healthcare, crime, and hunger right here in the US of A.

We need to end stop wars and use those tax dollars being spent on it here at home. So if you support the troops like I do, then bring them home.

THE JOHN T. WILLS CHRONICLES


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