Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Race Relations - Alien in the Delta

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            In the sixth week of basic training, two of us were sent over to the headquarters building. The captain wanted to let us know that we had been selected for overseas duty. This was great news. I had applied for France, and I was so excited. The captain called me in and said.
“I   have your orders to go overseas.”
            “France?” I asked.
            “No, you are going to Germany.” The captain said.

The military would try to accommodate your request, but their requirements came first.  A little disappointed that I wasn't going to France, I still looked forward to going to Europe.
             With basic training done, six young men from Detroit headed back home on the train. Someplace in Texas, the train stopped so that we could stretch our legs and get a snack. The six of us got off the train and went into the restaurant to get something to eat. We were all dressed in our nice, new blue uniforms, proudly representing the United States Air Force. I walked into the restaurant with all my buddies, and before we could sit down, the waiter looked at me and the other black serviceman and said.

            “We can’t serve you in here. You have to go out back to order and pick up your food.”

             Born and raised in the South, I had experienced discrimination before, but this time it hurt me deeply because I was dressed in my US Air Force uniform and was prepared to die for our country, and yet my fellow countryman still would not serve us.

This was the United States in 1962. No one should ever have to experience that kind of treatment! The both us just got back on the train without eating and sat in silence. We began basic training as six buddies from Detroit and returned as four white serviceman and two black servicemen.