Defending America

Considering that Crispus Attucks was the first American to die for this country in 1770, there is still the presumption that African-Americans are not to be trusted with national security decisions.

It took another 170 years for the United States to desegregate its armed forces in 1948.

But according to the American Community Survey in 2006, there are more than 2.4 million African-American veterans, 9.3 percent of all black men and women over 18 years of age.

When my father joined the Navy out of high school in 1943, he could only serve as a messman about a submarine in the Pacific.  Yet we were able to grow up with the images of him in uniform aboard the submersible.

It even spurred my brother to spend another 20 years in the Navy Reserve before retiring.

Black veterans are not appreciated.  It took more than a century for the 220,000 U.S. Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War to be commemorated with the Black Civil War Veterans Memorial at 12th and U Sts. in Washington.  Many of the World War II returnees had to watch enemy prisoners treated better than them in the South.

The day that Crispus Attucks died is marked with a school holiday in California, Black American Day, but the date of March 5 is rarely observed around the state.

With the mortgage crisis swirling through black neighborhoods, it would be a good time to insure that black veterans and their families are not subjected to foreclosures due to racially-targeted subprime loans.

Many states have scaled back affirmative action programs for business, but still give procurement preferences to veterans.   Black veterans have something special to offer as community role models, particularly when they have the opportunity to provide jobs to others.

And too, we have earned the right to help America make decisions on where its military might is expended, since a good share of that power projection is based on our blood, sweat and tears.

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