The Inauguration Won’t Be All Bad…

1 comment January 11th, 2009at 12:14pm Posted by Eli

Make no mistake: Rick Warren delivering the invocation is absolutely terrible, and a slap in the face to gays everywhere.  But I have to say, this is pretty awesome:

It took 60 years for the Tuskegee Airmen to get a second invite to a presidential inauguration, and this time they’ll actually be able to go.

“I’ve told everybody I want to go hop, skip and jumping in the parade, if they’ll let me” to honor the first African-American President, said 92-year-old retired Lt. Col. Spann Watson of Westbury, L.I.

When President Harry Truman took the oath of office in 1949, the first inauguration after World War II, Watson and 11 other airmen from the famed all-black unit were limited to a flyby over the parade – and they never set foot in the still-segregated capital.

(…)

This Jan. 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will be more welcoming to the estimated 250 surviving Tuskegee Airmen, all in their 80s and 90s, who are able to come.

The committee has upfront seats for all of them on the Capitol lawn for the swearing-in of Obama. Transition sources said that 1940s vintage cars also will be available to drive them in the parade to the White House, where they will take a salute from Obama.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Russ Davis, head of the nonprofit Tuskegee Airmen Inc., said 238 of the remaining fliers had been contacted and about 200 were expected to attend.

“This has been a long time coming,” Davis said.

In the 1940s, the airmen who trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama battled on two fronts – against the Nazis in Europe and against segregation at home.

“Each one accepted the challenge, proudly displayed his skill and determination while suppressing internal rage from humiliation and indignation caused by frequent experiences of racism,” according to the Congressional Gold Medal citation awarded the group last year.

Their white officers openly insulted their abilities and called them gutless.

“The white man is willing to die for patriotic reasons, the Negro is not,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Almond.

(…)

[T]he Airmen were kept out of action at first, and they were in danger of being disbanded until the morning of Jan. 27, 1944, in the skies over Italy.

“We poured hell into them,” Maj. George (Spanky) Roberts, of the 99th Fighter Squadron, said later of the vicious dogfights that tore apart the racist myths, along with 12 Nazi attack aircraft.

Lt. Clarence Jamison, leading a patrol of 12 P-40 Warhawks, took on 15 German Focke-Wulf 190s that had just flown a raid over the U.S. beachhead at Anzio. The Airmen shot down five of the enemy, landed to refuel, then went back up to shoot down four more.

(…)

The next day, the enemy was back, and so were the Airmen. They shot down three more enemy planes.

“Negroes are doing their bit here,” Walker later wrote home, “not for glory, not for honor, but for, I think, the generation that will come.”

It’s fantastic that these heroes are finally getting their due, but shameful that it took 60 years, and that there are so few of them left to enjoy it.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Obama

1 Comment

  • 1. Charles II  |  January 11th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Amen to that. It’s not like it would have cost Carter or Clinton to do it. It still makes me shake my head that it took 44 years to get from 1964 to 2008.


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