Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Did you know that there was once a time when African-Americans were not allowed to serve alongside other soldiers in the Air Force? There was this belief (based on nothing) that the brain of black men was smaller than the brain of white men and that we did not have the mental capacity needed to pilot aircrafts or handle sophisticated military artillary. My undergraduate degree was in history and I still have to admit that college was mindblowing. There are so many "facts" I learned in high school that were just out right lies. And there are oh so many things that are interestingly enough omitted from the books.

In college I was able to learn about the not so pretty side of American history. Prior to my undergraduate studies I was never taught about the Tuskegee Experiment, the treatment of Asian-Americans during WWII, or the truth about the history of Native Americans.

So with today being Veteran's Day, I think this is the perfect time to honor and reflect upon a phenomenal group of soldiers - The Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. During WWII these distinguished airmen were subject to harsh racism both inside and outside of the military. They trained at Tuskegee Institute and upon completion of their training they were not allowed to integrate into other Air Force units. However, these pilots still wanted to serve their country.

As WWII developed and their services were needed overseas they would eventually be deployed as bomber escorts. It was their duty to protect US bombers. As the bombers made their way behind enemy lines, escorts would fly alongside them to fight off any attack made on the bomber. It was their defense of the bomber that would pull any enemy attacker away so the bomber could successfully drop its bomb on its destined target. Initially many of the white bomber pilots verbally expressed their distrust, dislike and offense to seeing black bomber escorts arrive to aid them in their offense.

In an ironic twist the Tuskegee Airmen would become the only unit in the war to earn the distinct honor of never losing a bomber to enemy fire. Those white pilots that initally expressed their disdain towards their African-American peers would soon come to pray that the escort they receive would be the Tuskegee Airmen. The success of the Tuskegee Airmen would open the doors for racial integration in many different areas of the military.
I love hearing the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. No matter how many times I hear it I am inspired by it. I encourage anyone that has not seen the movie based on their story to go out and pick it up and watch it. It'd wonderful. During my graduate studies in history I actually visited the Tuskegee Institute and met some of the Tuskegee Airmen. I was awestruck being ble to sit and dialogue with living history.

So Happy Veteran's Day to all and a hearty thank you to all veterans - black, white, straight, gay, male, female, young and all. Thank you to my brothers Jeff and Mark Green who served in the U.S. Army. Thank you to my uncle Billy Welch for serving in the U.S. Air Force. Thank you to my father in law Lee Stevens and my brother in law David Peace for their service. And special thank you to all LGBT veterans who must serve in silence. I do not take this day for granted and I do appreciate all you do and all you have done.

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