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Black Veterans Coalition Honors Legendary Buffalo Soldier Colonel Charles Young
Published:
6/9/2013 12:10:07 PM


 

Dignitaries, retired generals, and members of the Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations all gathered to honor Colonel Charles Young at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, June 5th. A wreath in the form of a star was laid on his gravesite to mark the 90th anniversary of his internment and to raise awareness of his service to our country. “It was not the star of a general, which is the star he deserved but never received,” says Coalition Chair Charles Blatcher III. “He was the wrong color for the time.” The Coalition feels that it is more than time to elevate Col. Young to the rank of General. In doing so, they hope to add an important and necessary chapter to American history. Spanish-American War veteran Sergeant Samuel Waller said it best to Charles Blatcher, “They write you out of the future by writing you out of the past.”

The Coalition feels it’s time to write Colonel Charles Young into the present.

Retired generals in attendance of the ceremony included Lt. General Arthur Gregg, Lt. General William Ward, Major General Wallace C. Arnold, Major General Byron S. Bagby, Major General Robert Gaskill, Major General Errol Schwartz, Major General Abraham Turner, and Brigadier General Robert Cocroft. The event was followed by a formal dinner on Capitol Hill with the veterans, Col. Young’s descendants, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; the Ambassador from Haiti, Paul G. Altidor; First Secretary of Political Consular Christopher J. Nippy from Liberia, and Chief Methuselah Z. O. Bradley IV from Sierra Leone. President of BlaqueIce Productions, Leonard Lawson, sponsored the events and spoke to the importance of educating people about who Charles Young was and memorializing his legacy.

U.S. Representative Charles Rangel also provided some stirring words, as well as other scheduled speakers. Keynote speaker Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber, Director of the History Program at the University of the District of Columbia, spoke about the importance of integrating black history into the entire American narrative. Representative Barbara Lee, who has been the principal legislative voice behind the push to elevate the Colonel, provided the following statement as well: “While we’ve made some progress towards obtaining the proper recognition for Colonel Young-- particularly the declaration of Colonel Young’s home in Wilberforce, Ohio as a national treasure—he has yet to be given the honor he so rightfully deserves, the title of Brigadier General.”

At his death in 1922, Col. Young was the highest-ranking black soldier in America, rising up through the ranks to Colonel in a time when the armed forces were segregated and advancement for black soldiers was very difficult. Despite the odds, Colonel Young dedicated himself to this country and to the military and his success has paved the way for every black flag officer that has followed in his footsteps, including Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. and General Colin Powell. “It is not an exaggeration of the facts to say that every black flag officer in the armed forces past and present owe their opportunity to Colonel Charles Young,” says Blatcher. “They reached their stars standing on his shoulders.”

The Coalition has been working diligently for over 35 years to increase awareness of Young’s life and accomplishments so that his promotion to Brigadier General can be realized. Its work has resulted in the President of the United States requesting a review of Col. Young’s accomplishments. Accordingly, the Secretary of the Army requested the Center for Military History to examine Young’s record. “Though Colonel Young did display exemplary conduct and character and made significant contributions to the national defense,” they concluded, “there is no evidence that he ever performed duties and responsibilities commensurate with a Brigadier General.” The Army, therefore, has refrained from making a recommendation for his promotion at this time, though they do acknowledge that all of Colonel Young’s records have been “destroyed” and are “impossible” to recreate. Chairman of the National Minority Military Museum Foundation, Howard Jackson, Major USMC Ret., openly questions this. “It is an inconsistent statement to say that the Colonel never performed the assignments that would qualify him for further promotion, while at the same time affirming that all records of Colonel Young have been destroyed.”

Furthermore, their findings did not take into account that he was never allowed to participate at the level necessary to perform those duties. For example, though he was the third black man to graduate from West Point, a difficult achievement for anyone regardless of color, his years there were filled with ostracization and racism. Despite this, he persevered and eventually became a Colonel in a country divided by race.

“I would like to question how many opportunities were available for a black soldier to reach the rank of Brigadier General in the early 1900s,” says Blatcher, noting that the answer is, “None.” “It took until 1939 for the first black general to be promoted. Simply put, blacks were not allowed to be in command of white troops, so there was only so far up they could rise. Charles Young reached the rank of Colonel upon his medical discharge, so there wasn’t even room in the military for a black Colonel at that time.”

So now, the challenge carries on for the Coalition to fight for the promotion of Charles Young to the rank of Brigadier General. The veterans are continuing their appeal to the President of the United States to grant this exceptional soldier his due in concert with the 35 members of the House of Representatives who have joined the Coalition in calling for his promotion.

In February 2014, in honor of Black History Month, the veterans have commissioned a bronze maquette statue of Col. Young on horseback, created by renowned sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez, which they hope to present to President Obama. It is a replica of a major work that is being prepared with the intention of becoming a public statue in the nation’s capitol. The statue will be symbolic of the historic 500-mile journey that the Colonel embarked on to prove his physical fitness to remain on active duty in the U.S. Army in 1918.

“Our work is not yet finished,” writes Congresswoman Lee. “I am as committed as ever to making sure that the sacrifice, dedication, and service that Colonel Charles Young gave to this country are recognized in full!"

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Submitted By: Erich Hicks Submitted: 6/10/2013
Keep history alive and well by telling that history: Read the epic novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, where Buffalo Bill Cody meets a Buffalo Soldier, the greatest epic 'novel’ ever written. A great story of Black Military History, the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers...5 stars Amazon internationally, and Barnes & Noble. The website is; http://www.rescueatpineridge.com Youtube commercials are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgEqgNi2Is and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVslyHmDy9A&feature=related Rescue at Pine Ridge is the epic story of the 9th Cavalry from its Congressional conception in 1866, to the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, 1890. The 7th Cavalry was entrapped again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of occurred, a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. This story is about, brutality, compassion, bravery, gallantry, reprisal, heroism and redemption. I know you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote the story that embodied the Native Americans, Outlaws and African-American/Black Soldiers, from the east to the west, from the south to the north, in the days of the Native American Wars with the approaching United States of America. The novel was taken from my mini-series movie with the same title, “RaPR” to keep the story alive. The movie so far has the interest of major actors in which we are in talks with, in starring in this epic American story. When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for the United States Postal System in Montana, in the 1890's, “spread the word”. Peace.


Submitted By: Faith DeVeaux Submitted: 8/17/2013
I attended the dinner at the Capitol, and it was quite inspiring. Meeting so many African-American soldiers like my grandfather and father really made history come alive. Help preserve a big piece of African-American WWII history by supporting the upcoming film Double Victory: Two Warriors in the Fight for Civil Rights During WWII at http://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=8759. Like the Facebook page, visit doublevictorydocumentary.com, see the film when it comes out, but most of all, preserve your stories!!! Faith DeVeaux Author, When Duty Calls Producer, Double Victory


 
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