Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Celebrating our veterans

November 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Highlights

by Griffin Day

U.S. soldiers Bell and Littman pay tribute to Veterans who came before them.

Veterans Day is a day of remembrance, celebration, prayer and hope. Each year on Nov. 11, we pause to honor the men and women who serve our great country.

As African-Americans, we should take immense pride in our heritage of military service. Making the ultimate sacrifice for this nation’s liberty, those who have risked or given their lives in its defense will forever stand as heroes.

While it had been believed that black soldiers were reduced to menial tasks in wartime, history tells a much more complex story. Yes, there were times when African-Americans were assigned to some of the worst jobs — digging trenches and latrines, doing laundry and repairing roads — but we also fought bravely on the front lines.

We have served in all of this country’s wars and conflicts, and our contributions can be traced directly to the nation’s genesis: African-Americans were among the first to serve and die during the Revolutionary War.

Salem Poor, a black man, was the first casualty at Bunker Hill. Black soldiers served with Major Gen. Andrew Jackson, a future president, at the Battle of New Orleans. We fought alongside Davy Crockett at the Alamo. During the Civil War, black soldiers served in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at Fort Sumter, S.C. Black soldiers were known by Native American fighters as the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments. In the Spanish-American War, Black soldiers went up San Juan Hill with Theodore Roosevelt.
With black soldiers barred from U.S. military service at the beginning of the World War I, many found opportunities to serve in Canada and France. Later, when America began opening doors for black soldiers, they served with distinction and honor. From this period came individuals like Dorie Miller, whose naval exploits at Pearl Harbor became the stuff of legend. Fighting in the midst of segregation, groups of black fighters — the Tuskegee Airmen of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the 332nd Fighter Group, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion and the famous truck drivers of the “Red Ball Express” — served with honor and distinction.

In modern times, black servicemembers have been noted for their heroism in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

It is our duty to honor, remember and celebrate the soldiers of the past, and pray for those who wear the uniform today. For all they endure to keep us safe, the men and women of the military need our love and support every day of the year.

Las Vegas resident Griffin Day is a Vietnam veteran who was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for his service.

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