pearl-harborDecember 7, 1941 changed the landscape of the American public. Service before self seeped into the collective conscious. People of all walks of life felt compelled to step forward and heed the call. But not everyone was welcome.

The men who would become known as the Tuskegee Airmen – our country’s first black military pilots – felt this draw to service same as everyone else. They had the passion and skill to fight the war from the air, and worked hard for this opportunity at a time when they had to surmount absurd obstacles to be able to do so. While military leadership dug in their heels on their false belief of racial superiority, the Tuskegee Airmen endured prejudice and mistreatment in order to fly and fight for their country.

While some thought the color of their skin should preclude them from serving our country in this manner, times were changing and the war effort would need as many pilots as it could get. Borne of this necessity, the Tuskegee Airmen would ultimately prove to the entire military establishment that their ability to perform as well as their white counterparts was far more meaningful than any perceived lack of ability based on their complexion. The resulting contribution to the war effort and desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces was huge, although under-acknowledged for decades.

2175 years later, has apathy replaced the horror of that day that will live in infamy? We hope not. We believe the lessons of the Tuskegee Airmen – and that of all the men and women who served and sacrificed during this terrible war – will not only be remembered, but inspire each one of us to rise above our own obstacles and be our very best. The most powerful inoculation against apathy, and repeating past mistakes, is empathy and remembrance.

On this day set aside to reflect on the attack that drew our nation into a world war, we pause to remember and appreciate the two wars fought by the Tuskegee Airmen – against fascism abroad and racism at home. And may we forever honor their service and sacrifice.

Photo courtesy Karen Strong

Photo courtesy Karen Strong

 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

 

Share:

More Posts

William T. Fauntroy

William T. Fauntroy, Jr. Class: 45-I-SE William T. Fauntroy, Jr. was born on March 26, 1926 in the District of Columbia. Fauntroy attended John F. Cooke Elementary School, the Grimke Elementary School, Garnett-Patterson Junior High

Read More »

John Flanagan

John Flanagan, Jr. 1923 – 2019 Sgt. Flanagan joined the United States Army as a teenager, and first served as a communications technician as part of the support crew of the 99th Squadron. He fought

Read More »

Julius Freeman

  Julius Freeman April 27, 1927 – July 22, 2016 Freeman, a Kentucky native, became a fixture at schools and civic organizations in Queens and Nassau County, where he discussed his days as a medical

Read More »

Charles H. Flowers

Charles H. Flowers, II “Tiger” August 8, 1918 – January 28, 2011 Flowers joined the Army Air Corps in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1941. He was one of the first Tuskegee cadets to graduate. After graduating

Read More »

Send Us A Message