Every so often it’s good to have things put into perspective. Lately I’ve complained about how bad the wind is, or how hard it is to try to have a successful Etsy shop, or how much I hate it when cars won’t stop to let me cross the street, etc., etc. Well…
Last night I attended a presentation given by a man named William “Bill” Holloman. He was a member of the Tuskagee Airmen--an all African American pursuit squadron in WWII.
It was already a difficult time in the history of the world-wartime always is, but the Tuskagee Airmen had the additional difficulties of segregation and prejudice and the accompanying notions that African Americans lacked intelligence and skill, were unpatriotic and when it came right down to it, probably a bunch of cowards.
By the time the war ended in 1945, the Tuskagee Airmen had become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. Additionally, they paved the way for the signing of Executive Order 9981 by President Truman on July 26, 1948. This order called for equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services. Years later still, the Tuskagee Airmen were finally recognized for their service and valor in WWII by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.
So back to Bill Holloman…Now 86, he is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. During WWII he flew P-51 Mustangs with the 332nd Fighter Group in Europe, and later he became the U.S. Air Force’s first African American helicopter pilot.
He finally got to add another accomplishment to his list a few years ago-and that was to roll up his pant legs… and walk into the waters of the Gulf Coast near Biloxi Mississippi. Back in 1948 when he was stationed there, he saw the water, and thought it looked so inviting for a swim, but it would have been a jailable offense for him to set foot in it.
Yes, reality checks, and history lessons are important…I see how good I’ve had it.
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