When my father was in Korea in 1955,
His father in Jacksonville Florida could not vote.
When my father drove my brother and mom across the country in 1959,
He needed to find overnight accommodations.
In his uniform, he made requests and was met with “no, nothing here for coloreds”.
Until he was referred to a house, a “black brothel”.
My dad, my mom and my brother were led to an upstairs room apart from the brothel because that is we where “coloreds” could stay.
When my father was stationed in Germany, he took my mom to Paris.
He picked up a newspaper and on the front page was a picture –
Four little children, little black children flanked by the national guard entering a school.
White women, faces distorted and ugly, spitting on little children
He turned to my mom and said “we have to go home, we need to be back home.”
When my father was in Fort Leavenworth Kansas, in his uniform and at his office on base, April 4, 1968,
He heard the news of the assissination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A uniformed coworker was overheard saying: “he got what he deserved”.
My father, entered his office, asked not to be disturbed, shut the door and mourned alone.
When my father prepared to leave for Vietnam,
he drove my grandmother, my mother, my brother and me home from my great-grandmother’s funeral. As he stopped for gas, my grandma took us to the bathroom only to find the “men” and “women” bathroom doors locked and marked “White”. My father, in his uniform, asked for the key and was told “you don’t need a key”. He asked the man to stop the pump though the tank was not full – he threw the amount owed of $2.50 on the ground, we all got back into the car. His children never got to use the bathroom.
When my father returned from Vietnam, he was not met with “thank you for your service”.
My father, in uniform, was treated with ugly, distorted faces and spat upon.
When my father watched as the first African American man
was elected President of the Unified States, he told me “I never thought I would live to see this day”.
When my father planned his wife’s – my mother’s – funeral, he asked me to lay out her clothes.
We selected her favorite outfit and on the jacket was a crystal encrusted “Obama” campaign brooch. We buried my mother with the brooch as she was so proud to support Barack Obama.
When my father texted me on Wednesday November 9, 2016, he said:
“Friday is Veteran’s Day – Reminds me: Once I was young, studious and optimistic.
My father fought for the rights and freedoms of others in their country.
He fought for the rights and freedom for all citizens of his beloved country, wore his uniform with pride until his retirement, carried out his duties, salutes the flag and votes even
This country and its citizens did not always thank him for his service, for his sacrifice and that of his family.
When I replied to my father’s text, I simply wrote:
“Remember to have the audacity of hope as Barack Obama so eloquently says. And no matter what anyone else says or does, you are my hero, you are my brother’s hero, you are our family’s hero. You are loved, loved deeply”.
I then wondered when…when …when can stop we all stop wondering when?
we have the audacity of hope. Hold on to, spread and act on that hope.
Thanking all the Veterans and their families that give their lives to support this country even when at times our gratitude, love and support are not reciprocated. Thank you for your service.
Veterans Day November 11 2016
(Text, stories and images shared by permission of my dad – Howard A. Myrick, retired Army)