The Confederate Flag is a Red Herring

The outrage about the flying of the confederate flag over the South Carolina statehouse has been refueled and re-furled after the horrific shooting and hate crime committed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

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I don’t care whether they take this flag down or not.  Because this symbol is not the reason for America’s racial issues.   America’s soul is the issue.    Whether we know or acknowledge it our nation is suffering from a wounded soul.   One that will never heal until we face, head on, our history with racial injustice.

It is difficult to have conversations that uncover discomfort, shame and guilt.    But putting a salve on our collective souls cannot begin until we engage in this sustained dialogue.   It will make us hurt.  It will test our hearts.  It will make some of us hunker down in our prejudices and fear.    Transformation is difficult and attitude change is a daunting task.  For 150 years we’ve changed laws, changed policies and enforced new behaviors.  I’m grateful for the changes.  But only confronting the core of our beliefs, self-reflection and an openness to understand how we benefit from change can truly set us free from bigotry and its residuals.

In the short term, taking down walls, fences, signs, and flags can make us feel good.  But the work of racial healing cannot be successful through surface acts.  In the long run we must go past the color of skin and flags.  Go deeper to view our soul’s hue.

I mourn the loss of nine souls.  And the irreparable damage to the lives of their loves ones.

Black soldiers on D-Day: “We Were There.”

woodson-209x300Waverly B. Woodson, Jr was a medic on D-Day.  Despite his own injuries from a mine explosion, Woodson continued to treat other wounded soldiers for 30 hours.   His actions, chronicled by his white superior officer, earned him a Bronze Star.    But Woodson is only one of many black soldiers who acted out of duty and honor to their uniform.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Allied forces executed a massive invasion along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in northern France occupied by Hitler’s so-called Fortress Europe.  D-Day was a massive operation, the largest amphibious force in American military history, and involved 5,000 ships and landing craft, 160,000 troops and 11,000 aircraft providing support.  D-day-NormandyFour thousand Allied troops died in the Normandy invasion and thousands more were wounded or missing as troops scrambled ashore drawing machine-gun fire from the cliffs above the beach.    Omaha and Utah beaches were assigned to U.S. Forces.  The U.S. First Army Division faced heavy opposition on Omaha Beach where Black Soldiers at D-Day2,000 American soldiers died.  On that morning, seventy-one years ago, Negro soldiers did their part with tenacity, adaptability and bold action.  Some 1,700 black troops were part of the First Army including the 327th Quartermaster Service Company and the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, which used helium-filled balloons tethered to explosives to thwart German aerial attacks. 

 

 

A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day  is a 2007 History Channel documentary which brings to life, through first-person testimonials, the challenges of black troops on D-Day.    “You see movies and stuff.  The Longest Day, you don’t see know African Americans.  Private Ryan, no African Americans….but we were there!”

On this day of commemoration of D-Day.  I salute these unsung heroes.        

Buffalo Soldiers Still Remembered

Great to meet and be interviewed by the fabulous Maggie Linton this week at the SiriusXM studios -The Maggie Linton Show.  We discussed my book:  Long Way Home:  A World War II Novel.

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Maggie’s father served in both WWII and the Korean War and was a member of one of the African American military units (Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Leavenworth.

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The Buffalo Soldier Monument was an idea that originated with retired Gen. Colin Powell when he was assigned to Fort Leavenworth in the early 1980s as a brigadier general. He believed something should be done to recognize the contributions and achievements of the Buffalo Soldier units.

See more at: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article1607698.html