JIM HOLLOWAY, San Clemente
In a SC Times Letter to the Editor, Craig Keshishian advocates for teaching history, especially about “the valor, service and civics” of the U.S. military. I could not agree more. Teaching history, including military history, is vitally important.
With it recently being Juneteenth, it seems appropriate to offer bullet points about the convergence of U.S. Military history and civil rights.
- Juneteenth—On June 19, 1865, U.S. Army forces rode into Galveston, Texas to inform 250,000 enslaved African Americans that as of Jan. 31, 1865, the passage of the 13th Amendment made them Free People.
- WWI—In 1919, African American doughboys were returning from Europe. They had learned in Europe that living under Jim Crow laws in the South was not the way it had to be. This kick-started The Great Migration of six million African Americans from the South to other parts of the United States, fleeing the Jim Crow laws that existed at that time.
- WWII—African Americans served in many capacities during World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen, an all-Black unit flying P-51s, one of the most sophisticated WWII airplanes, proved once and for all, (and contrary to some theories at that time) that African Americans could serve with valor, courage, discipline and intelligence.
- Korea—In July 1948, President and Commander in Chief Harry Truman ordered that U.S. Military forces be integrated. As a result, Black and White servicemen and women fought side by side during the Korean War. The U.S. Military’s example of successful integration provided a model for the Civil Rights legislation of the mid-’60s.
- Colin Powell—Rising through the ranks, Colin Powell became the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over all U.S. Military operations. Powell then became America’s first African American Secretary of State. This was a harbinger of things to come.
- Barack Obama—America’s first Black president. Who can forget when President Obama announced that as Commander-in-Chief of U.S Military forces, he had ordered operations to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and that Navy Seals had successfully carried out those orders.
History teaches us many valuable lessons. It should be taught straight-up, fully and clear-eyed “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” Commander-in-Chief Abraham Lincoln said in 1865.