Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
There are many honorable veterans whose contributions to freedom, democracy and our American way of life are lost in history. And there are various reasons for these slights, some unintended, while others can be traced back to how society operated back in those days.
Sharing the stories of these courageous men and women helps educate fellow veterans, the general public and those who will study and revere them for generations to come.
With Black History Month underway, this is a perfect time to pay tribute to our comrades who may not have received the just recognition they richly deserved.
While Dorie Miller’s World War II heroics have been well documented, he has unfortunately not received the Medal of Honor posthumously. However, there are eight American Legion posts that bear his name. In fact, two of them joined forces to honor Miller recently in Waco, Texas.
An often-overlooked story is that of Charles W. David Jr., a Black Coast Guard petty officer who risked his life to help save 93 survivors after a German torpedo struck the USS Dorchester in the north Atlantic on Feb. 3, 1943 – and may have been a divine answer to the Four Chaplains’ prayers. In a Q&A about his book “The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-inspiring Rescue,” author Steven Collis shares the story of David’s heroics.
Additionally, did you know a group of Army officers and Buffalo Soldiers rode their bicycles for about 1,900 miles to test whether they would suffice for military transportation? Learn more about this amazing adventure from Buffalo Soldier descendant, American Legion member and re-enactor Bobby McDonald. He will be among those leading this summer’s quasquicentennial commemorations of the Iron Riders’ historic trek.
There are so many more stories of unsung Black veterans out there. Some are explored in this week’s episode of The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast. The Iron Riders are featured in the February issue of The American Legion Magazine.
Whether you read, listen to or watch these stories of patriotism, sacrifice and honor, I’m sure you will be grateful as I am for their commitments to keeping America safe.
For God and Country,
Paul E. Dillard
American Legion National Commander