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Posts Tagged ‘black soldiers

African American World War II veterans share stories of war amidst segregation

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By Pamela McLoughlin, Journal Register Staff

Among the shrinking pool of World War II veterans still alive is a group with two war stories to tell.

One is about patriotism, dedication and becoming war heroes. The other is of doing the same thing, but in a segregated military where black troops fought in different units than white troops, with whites at the highest ranks, even though their blood spilled the same.

The Greater New Haven branch of the NAACP will honor black World War II veterans from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at a Veterans Day program at Criterion Cinemas, 86 Temple St. For tickets, call the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People office at 203-389-7275 or e-mail Tickets are $25

In addition, the NAACP will showcase an oral history project, featuring the veterans, created by Hillhouse High School.

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Gathering honors African-American soldiers from Civil War

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by Justina Wang
Democrat and Chronicle

More than a century after Thomas E. Platner died, a dozen sets of hands clasped around his grave to honor a life that never made it into the history books.

“Thomas E. Platner,” called out Megan L. Roberts of Rochester, a freshman at the University of Rochester, “You were just 17 when on March 10, 1853, you answered like a man.”

Believed to be a soldier in the United States Colored Troops, long-ago Rochester resident Platner was buried at Riverside Cemetery on Lake Avenue, but his headstone wasn’t discovered until 2007 by Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Saturday morning, members of the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission gathered the reverent beside Platner’s grave for the fourth annual commemoration of black Civil War soldiers.

About a dozen onlookers held their hats and flags as five men and one woman in navy blue uniforms marched through the cemetery and fired replica rifles to honor Platner and the thousands of other African-American soldiers who fought for their own freedom.

“These guys sacrificed a lot so those of us who are African American can live large today,” said Mel Reid, a Washington D.C. resident who travels the country in his Navy cap and white gloves to remind Americans of the oft-forgotten Colored Troops. “When we put on this uniform, it’s a way to say ‘Thank you’ to someone who kind of got lost in history.”

As an added ‘Thank you’ to Cathy Williams, an African-American slave who disguised herself as a man to serve as a Buffalo Soldier, Rochester resident Lillie Hurst pulled her hair back and slid on knee-high boots. A veteran stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., Hurst said she wanted to learn about the long history of military women who also are glossed over in Civil War stories.

These reminders of the forgotten pieces of history are lessons for the future, said Rochester resident Marie Parsons.

“We are a nation of minorities,” she said. “We need to honor the people that are part of American heritage that we don’t often think of.”

Written by Symphony

May 25, 2008 at 6:52 pm