All Gave Some...

This is a very trying time for this nation. Although this nation purports to be that of a melting pot, more so a buffet, people are more culturally distanced than ever before. Much of this is because people have yet to know each other's history. History is told by the victor. But to tell only a certain portion or from a particular view that refuses to yield, is still propaganda.

A few days ago, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under fire for remarks pertaining to his stance on knelling. He cited the gallantry and sacrifices of his grandfather who served in World War II as the foundation upon which he stands. The counter push from critics and team mates was that he was either unknowing, or knowing but insensitive to the role that the forefathers of his very team mates played in the nation's fight for freedom.

World War II is by and large the most celebrated war on film. Iconic films such as Saving Private Ryan, The Big Red One, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly's Heroes, Patton, Fury, A Band Of Brothers, just to name a few are are classics. One thing that is often missing are the role that blacks and other racial minorities. It has only been in recent decades that we've seen the heroic exploits of the Navaho Code Talkers, and the Tuskegee Airmen. When Hollywood goes to war, often times blacks have been left out of the picture leaving people to believe that blacks have not contributed to the war efforts of this nation

The 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion was an African American United States Army unit that saw combat in Europe during World War II. This VLA (Very Low Altitude) barrage balloon battalion "was raised up in 1942 just a year after the Coastal Artillery Corps took over responsibility for barrage balloons from the Army Air Corps." Their first assignment was Utah and Omaha beaches on 6 June 1944 (the D-Day invasion). The mission of the 621-man assault force was to raise hydrogen-filled barrage balloons to protect assaulting infantry and armor from being strafed by enemy aircraft. "They flew at an altitude of around 200 feet to defend soldiers landing on the beaches against strafing attacks by German aircraft.". A commendation by Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower cited the unit for conducting

"its mission with courage and determination, and proved an important element of the air defense team". The battalion served 140 days in France. In late July 1944, Battery A of the 320th moved from Omaha Beach to the port city of Cherbourg. The remaining three batteries stayed on Omaha and Utah Beaches until early October, when deteriorating weather prevented ships from landing. The battalion's service in France came to and end on 24 October, when the men boarded ships bound for England. "By the end of October 1944, the 320th VLA Battalion was on its way back to Camp Stewart, Ga., to train for service in the Pacific Theater. They eventually made it as far as Hawaii before the war ended."

The 320th Barrage Balloon Bn. was unique at Normandy for two reasons. First, it was the only American barrage balloon unit in France and second, it was the first black unit in the segregated American Army to come ashore on D-Day. Five battalion medics were the first to land on Omaha Beach at approximately 9 a.m. A wounded medic, Waverly B. Woodson Jr., was nominated for the Medal of Honor, though he never received it.

The VLA units used smaller barrage balloons weighing only 35 pounds (ca. 16 kg) that could easily be moved by a few men and transported across the channel on landing craft. A standard balloon crew was normally five men, but the 320th reduced crews to three and four men for the Normandy invasion. Corporal William G. Dabney was one of the last surviving members of this unit, and received the French Legion of Honor in 2009 for his participation in the Invasion of Normandy. He died in December 2018.

As one can see, blacks have made immense contributions to this nation in times of every war but yet still found themselves castigated to the lowest rungs of society Therefore, for an NFL player to take a knee during the performance of the National Anthem, it is not a tool of disrespect for the soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine of African descent fought victoriously that it may wave in the name of freedom, liberty, and

democracy. Over 80 years ago, evil manifested itself in the form of facists and Nazis. Mind you that this nation was gripped in not just racial strife, but economic despair.

However, despite a bleak outlook in the face of a virulent aggression of everything that this nation was against, on its worst day, what we later be labeled "the greatest generation" came together under the banner of world freedom. Everyone contributed to the war effort. This is what made that generation great. Even with a segregated Armed Forces, Japanese Imperialism and German Nazism was eradicated.

Today marks the 76th anniversary of perhaps the greatest battle, most definitely the most pivotal battle ever fought. The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Over the past seven decades, that fateful day has been chronicled in several motion pictures. WWII is perhaps the most examined war. Probably because is was the last one that the US got right, that had a clear objective with a concise and precise nemesis. However, it has yet to be told conclusively as it often downplays the heroic exploits and efforts of so many that were intricate in garnishing victory. When Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Hirohito, and their many dozens of underlings arose to threaten peace, men of numerous hues, racial, religious, class, educational, political, and national categories stood and met the challenge head on. We live forever grateful today, for that fateful day. Had it not been for the unification of good, you would've been reading this article in German.

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