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Contributions of African-American patriots laudable

October 23, 2008
The Daily Mining Gazette

The contributions of African-American patriots to our nation's safety were ignored or downplayed for generations. It has been only during the past several decades that efforts have been made to rectify the injustice.

Earlier this month, an old airfield in Tuskegee, Ala., was designated as a National Historic Site. You may well have guessed already why the place is significant: It is where the famed Tuskegee Airmen trained before going overseas to fight in World War II.

Many Americans are familiar with the Airmen. They were a group of African-Americans permitted to fly fighter planes, at a time when too many bigots insisted that the new pilots could not possibly perform well in combat.

They did. Their record is a stirring one of courage, ability, patriotism and a drive to prove something that never should have been in doubt. The Airmen compiled an excellent record of safeguarding Allied bombers from German fighter planes.

Hundreds of the Airmen gathered recently for the ceremony at Tuskegee. They deserved richly the praise lavished on them by speakers during the event. They and their comrades won many battles - and were, in part, responsible for President Harry Truman's decision in 1948 to desegregate the armed forces. Finally the Airmen - and other African-Americans who have served in the military - are receiving the recognition to which they are entitled.



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