In the U.S., today is “Veterans’ Day,” a holiday intended to honor those who have fought and died in the armed services. There are several good pieces on Veterans Day and racism floating around the Internet that I wanted to share:
- “Black veterans: a complicated past and an unsung present.” Cliff Albright at The Examiner does a nice job of putting Veterans’ Day into context. He writes:
Black soldiers such as the Harlem Hellfighters and many others for centuries have done much to demonstrate Black courage and dignity. But on the other hand, Black soldiers have too often participated in wars of aggression, greed and imperialism–wars which were often aimed at other people of color. From the Buffalo Soldiers and their battles with the Native Americans to the Philippines, from Vietnam to Panama and Grenada, Black soldier have had to fight against folks that look like them for reasons that they must have known were, at best, questionable. In some cases, the irony of their predicament caused Black soldiers to show compassion for their foes, while in other cases it did not seem to make a difference. So clearly the experience of enlisted Black soldiers is part of why I’m torn about Veterans Day. But I’m also torn because of the experiences of Black veterans who weren’t actually enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces. These are veterans of a different kind of war—the FBI’s war against Black America.
- “Joe Louis: A Veterans’ Day Tribute to an American Hero.” Dexter Rogers also The Examiner writes:
While Louis was at the apex of his career as champion he opted to serve his country. He served in the United States Army from 1942-1945. During Louis’ tenure he took some ridicule from the African American community. Every major sector of life for African Americans faced segregation. The military wasn’t exempt. Despite the latter Louis loved his country. When asked why he entered the army Louis he issued the following: “Lots of things are wrong with America, but Hitler ain’t going to fix them.” … Louis was a Private First Class when he entered Army but was faced with second-class treamtment. Though Louis was serving his country he was in a segregated Army. The segregation that existed in the military was merely a reflection of the institutionalized racism in society and American sports.
- “Firme: Honoring Ourselves, As We Honor Our Veterans.” Oscar at NuestraVoice writes:
Latinos in the U.S. military history have the highest number of Medals of Honor, the highest ranking medal for combat bravery in our Country, in all our wars since 1775, so we have proved our loyalty beyond a shadow of a doubt…..yet we still suffer from racism in our own backyard.
- “The Faces of Veterans’ Day” – ResistRacism has a very nice collection of historical photos of veterans from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, and observes:
We remember that the faces of our heroes are of many colors, as is the face of our history.