Memorial Day: The African American Solider - Korean War

Machine gun crew during Korean War. (1950)

(Source: Truman Library)

Memorial Day: The African American Solider - World War II (African American Nurses Abroad)

European Theater of Operations, Nurses in England, 1944.
Copyprint. NAACP Collection, (LOC) Courtesy of the NAACP

"Even though an extreme shortage of nurses in World War II forced the federal government to seriously consider drafting white nurses, defense officials remained reluctant to recruit black nurses throughout the war. Allowing black nurses to care for whites was considered a violation of social norms. Nevertheless, the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, led by Mabel Staupers, and rights groups like the NAACP, loudly protested racial policies in the Army Nurse Corps and the military in general. These groups achieved some success. This photograph documents the arrival of the first African American nurses in England."

Memorial Day: The African American Solider - Civil War

In the fall of 1862 there were at least three Union regiments of African Americans raised in New Orleans, Louisiana: the First, Second, and Third Louisiana Native Guard. These units later became the First, Second, and Third Infantry, Corps d’Afrique, and then the Seventy-third, Seventy-fourth, and Seventy-fifth United States Colored Infantry (USCI). The First South Carolina Infantry (African Descent) was not officially organized until January 1863; however, three companies of the regiment were on coastal expeditions as early as November 1862. They would become the Thirty-third USCI. Similarly, the First Kansas Colored Infantry (later the Seventy-ninth [new] USCI) was not mustered into service until January 1863, even though the regiment had already participated in the action at Island Mound, Missouri, on October 27, 1862. These early unofficial regiments received little federal support, but they showed the strength of African Americans’ desire to fight for freedom.

29th Regiment from Connecticut at Beaufort, S.C., 1864. Attributed to Sam A. Cooley.
Copyprint (LOC)

Memorial Day: The African American Solider - World War I (The 369th - “Harlem Hellfighters”)


Among the first regiments to arrive in France, and among the most highly decorated when it returned, was the 369th Infantry (formerly the 15th Regiment New York Guard), more gallantly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” The 369th was an all-black regiment under the command of mostly white officers including their commander, Colonel William Hayward.

Participation in the war effort was problematic for African Americans. While America was on a crusade to make the world safe for democracy abroad, it was neglecting the fight for equality at home. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) established that the 14th Amendment allowed for separate but equal treatment under the law. In 1913 President Wilson, in a bow to Southern pressure, even ordered the segregation of federal office workers. The U.S. Army at this time drafted both black and white men, but they served in segregated units. After the black community organized protests, the Army finally agreed to train African American officers but it never put them in command of white troops.

Memorial Day: The African American Solider - Buffalo Soldiers

"Nearly sixteen months after the end of the Civil War, Section 3 of an Act of Congress entitled "An Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment of the United States" authorized the formation of two regiments of cavalry composed of "colored" men. The act was approved on 28 July 1866. On 21 September 1866, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was activated at Greenville, Louisiana, and the 10th Cavalry Regiment was activated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Under the competent leadership of Colonels Edward Hatch and Benjamin Grierson, first Regimental Commanders of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, respectively, both regiments were trained and equipped and began a long and proud history."

LOOK:

First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden Launch Initiative to Honor Military Families
Updated: Tuesday, 12 Apr 2011, 1:37 PM CDT
 
(NewsCore) - WASHINGTON — First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched a national initiative Tuesday to support and honor US service members and their families — a priority President Barack Obama said was a “matter of national security.”
 
“The strength and readiness of America’s military depends on the strength and the readiness of our military families,” the president said at the initiative’s launch at the White House. “This is a matter of national security. It’s not just the right thing to do, it also makes this country stronger.”
 
The “Joining Forces” national initiative “aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned,” according to the first lady’s office.

LOOK:

First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden Launch Initiative to Honor Military Families

Updated: Tuesday, 12 Apr 2011, 1:37 PM CDT

 

(NewsCore) - WASHINGTON — First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched a national initiative Tuesday to support and honor US service members and their families — a priority President Barack Obama said was a “matter of national security.”

 

“The strength and readiness of America’s military depends on the strength and the readiness of our military families,” the president said at the initiative’s launch at the White House. “This is a matter of national security. It’s not just the right thing to do, it also makes this country stronger.”

 

The “Joining Forces” national initiative “aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned,” according to the first lady’s office.

(Source: joellednorwood)