Tag Archives: honor

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…


"Granddaddy’s Lessons"

A few months ago I posted this excerpt from my novel “Just a Season”. I received a very special heartfelt request from a devoted follower of “Thought Provoking Perspectives” asking me to repost “Granddaddy’s Lessons”, as it is fitting for the times in which we live. Although she calls herself “a fan of my thoughts,” I call her my friend. Therefore, I am honored to repost this chapter that delivers a powerful message that I hope will enlighten, empower, motivate, and touch your heart as well.

Today we live in a world where there is no more Granddaddy to share that precious wisdom necessary to guide our young men, and women, into adulthood. I was very fortunate or maybe blessed, to have had a loving grandfather who shared many valuable lessons with me. These lessons formed the foundation of my very being…

“Granddaddy would say if you really hear me, not just listen to me, you will inherit life’s goodness. I would hear him talk about things like “God bless the child that’s got his own.” He constantly reminded me that everything that ever existed came from a just-single thought, and if you can think it, you can figure out how to do it just put your mind to it. I would constantly hear that a man must be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of the circumstances. “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you will have to do, but when the time comes, do it.” Granddaddy drove home the point, the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he’s learned.

Granddaddy would say you will always have an enemy. Your enemy is anyone who attempts to sabotage the assignment God has for your life. Your enemy is anybody who may resent you doing positive things and will be unhappy because of your success. These people will attempt to kill the faith that God has breathed within you. They would rather discuss your past than your future because they don’t want you to have one. Your enemy should not be feared. He would say it is important to understand that this person usually will be close to you. He would tell me to use them as bridges, not barricades. Therefore, it is wise to make peace with your enemy.

“Just remember these things I say to you.” I certainly could not count all of these things, as it seemed like a million or more that I was supposed to remember. However, he asked me to remember above all else that there is no such thing as luck. The harder you work at something the luckier you get. I would tell him that I was lucky, maybe because I had won a ballgame or something. He would smile and tell me luck is only preparation meeting opportunity and that breeds success. Life is all about survival and if you are to survive – never bring a knife to a gunfight. This would be just as foolish as using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Then he asked me to remember that it is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

Granddaddy’s words had so much power, although it would often require some thinking on my part to figure out what he was talking about or what the moral of the story was supposed to be. It may have taken awhile but I usually figured it out. For example, always take the road less traveled, make your own path, but be sure to leave a trail for others to follow. Life’s road is often hard; just make sure you travel it wisely. If you have a thousand miles to go, you must start the journey with the first step. During many of these lessons, he would remind me not to let your worries get the best of you.

Sometimes he would use humor. For example, he would say something like “Moses started out as a basket case.” Although most often he assured me that hard times will come and when they come, do not drown in your tears; always swim in your blessings. He would tell me he had seen so much and heard even more, in particular those stories from his early life when dreadful atrocities were done to Negroes. Some of the stories included acts of violence such as lynchings, burnings, and beatings. He would make a point to explain that the people who did these things believed they were acting in the best interest of society.

He would tell me about things he witnessed over time, that many of these atrocities were erased from the memory of society regardless how horrible the event was. Society’s reasoning would make you think their action was right, fair, and justified. Granddaddy would add, if history could erase that which he had witnessed and known to be true, how can you trust anything history told as truth? He would emphasize that I should never, never believe it, because nothing is as it seems.

I would marvel at his wisdom. He would tell me to always set my aim higher than the ground. Shoot for the stars because if you miss you will only land on the ground and that will be where everybody else will be. When he would tell me this, he would always add, please remember you are not finished because you are defeated. You are only finished if you give up. He would usually include a reminder. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Never think you are too big because you can be on top of the world today and the world can be on top of you tomorrow.

I think Granddaddy had the foresight to see that I could do common things in life in an uncommon way, that I could command the attention of the world around me. Granddaddy impressed upon me that change is a strange thing. Everyone talks about it but no one ever tries to affect it. It will take courage and perseverance to reach your place of success. Just remember that life is not a rehearsal. It is real and it is you who will create your destiny don’t wait for it to come to you. He would say, can’t is not a word. Never use it because it implies failure. It is also smart to stay away from those who do use it.

He would tell me that I was an important creation, that God gave a special gift to me for the purpose of changing the world around me. It may be hard sometimes, you may not understand, you may have self doubt or hesitation, but never quit. God gave it to you, so use it wisely. He would add often times something biblical during his teaching, or so I thought, like to whom much is given, much is expected. It is because we needed you that God sent you. That statement profoundly gave me a sense of responsibility that I was duty bound to carry throughout my life.

Granddaddy’s inspiration, courage, and motivation still humble me, and I’m filled with gratitude that his example profoundly enriched my soul. So much so that in those times of trouble, when the bridges are hard to cross and the road gets rough, I hear Granddaddy’s gentle voice reciting words once spoken by the Prophet Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with you.”

http://www.facebook.com/v/1553322314327

Excerpt from “Just a Season”
All Rights Reserved
(c) 2007

JUST A SEASON – a must read novel…
Amazon


%d bloggers like this: