Henry D. Polite
1926 – May 8, 2023
Born in Philadelphia in 1926 and later settling in Los Angeles, Polite faithfully served his country as a crew chief and engineer among the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators and service members during World War II. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded Polite and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Medal of Honor for their service.
During Polite’s time in the service, he endured racism anywhere he went. Henry told his daughter, Veronica Polite, he once removed a “colored only” sign in anger at the injustices of the time. Following his military service, he continued to work as an electrical engineer for the Department of Defense for three decades until his retirement.
Veronica Polite said what her father remembered most about his time in the military was the racism he faced wherever he went.
“He said he saw a ‘colored only’ sign hanging up. He snatched it down. I think he carried that anger for a long time, and when he came home from the service, he kept that sign,” Veronica Polite recalled.
Polite’s legacy is one of heroism and resilience.