By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
Have you ever asked for something and were punished because you asked? And if you ask again and again, again and again you are punished for daring to ask. This is the predicament the National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations has found itself. Last month, this venerable organization was moved to ask for desperate help from Gen. Colin Powell to get the White House to give Col. Charles Young a posthumous honorary promotion to general. The Coalition has been trying for 38 years to get Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point, his promotion. Col. Young was the highest ranking African American officer until his death in 1922.
The Coalition had reason to have more than a glimmer of hope when Barack Obama became the nation’s first African American president. The Coalition approached the White House shortly after he became president. It was then the White House promised to call the Coalition. That was back in 2009, but that call has yet to be returned. Instead, the Coalition’s request has been met time and time again with refined bull.
This patriotic organization has remained respectful and given this Commander-in-Chief and his White House staffers more than ample time to do the right and honorable thing by Col. Young who was not promoted because it meant white soldiers would have had to salute him.
Now my blood boiled and hit the top of my head when I saw this Commander-in-Chief get all riled up and joined in the fray when all hell broke loose because the father of a fallen Muslim-American soldier derided Trump at the recent Democratic Party Convention. In fact, the mainstream media went crazy in slamming Trump and booking Mr. Ghazala Khan on every high profile network and cable news outlet seemingly in the nation. Granted, Trump should have been slammed when he compared that next day that he, too, has made sacrifices by constructing buildings. Of course, one would know that building buildings could not compare to losing a child. Okay, we got this, but had not Khan’s son been a Muslim-American and died within the realm of a politically correct atmosphere, the father never would have been invited to the Democratic Convention in the first place. And if you are a decent person, you do appreciate the sacrifice that Mr. and Mrs. Khan made. You also appreciate the sacrifice all American families that have lost loved ones in the military have made. Black soldiers from the Buffalo Soldier (which Col. Young was) to the Tuskegee Airmen certainly did not have such vehement support.
Now back to my blood boiling. See, blood is red. And when it is spilled to keep this nation safe, that spilt blood should be treated with respect. Not so when it comes to Col. Young. Does his service to this nation not matter because of time? If this is the case, should we now dismiss the service of all warriors now lying in Arlington Cemetery (where Col. Young lies) and other cemeteries? This White House has paraded about the biggest lie when it got the U.S. Army Center of Military History’s Historical Resources Branch to give as a sorry excuse that Col. Young could not be promoted posthumously because his records were destroyed in a 1973 fire. Never mind that Young’s contributions are all over the historical landscape – even in Wikipedia. Recently, I received an advance proof copy of “Dream A World Anew” to review. This book is published by Smithsonian Books and the book will be released in celebration of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. I shall present my review at a later date, but I can tell you this that even though Col. Young is not specifically mentioned in this book’s limited military pages, there is a photo of a veterans’ commemorative flag and on this flag are the words: “Veterans Reunion, 9th Batt. O.V.I., Maj. Chas. Young, Commanding.” That Major Charles Young went on to become Col. Young. Oops. I guess that flag wasn’t destroyed in the fire. “Dream A World Anew” acknowledges the contribution of the Buffalo Soldier in an enlightening piece on Black patriotism by contributor Krewasky A. Salter. Aforementioned, Young was a Buffalo soldier, and even one of the most influential generals of the time, John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing pushed for Col. Young’s promotion to general. Even Teddy Roosevelt before he was president supported Young.
Hopefully, Gen. Colin Powell will have better luck with their request. In a press release from the Coalition, Powell’s response to the Coalition was: “I am aware of Col. Young’s record and contribution and need no reminding. We all stand on the shoulders of many who went before. I am pursuing this through my channels and in my way.”
Gen. Powell may need no reminding but perhaps he should remind the nation’s first African American president/commander-in-chief and his White House staff that they need not continue to set up the Coalition as being fools for complaining about their efforts to get Young a posthumous honorary promotion. Such tactics have been used repeatedly on African Americans who seek any type of promotion in a pseudo-liberal environment when the person they’re asking has made up his mind not to do it anyway. The tactic is to promote anybody and everybody to further humiliate the person doing the asking. Since the Coalition’s request, the Obama administration has honored an array of military persons alive and dead. Yes, these soldiers deserved their honors. But it seems peculiar (dare I say even suspicious) that the more the Coalition members geared up their campaign, the more the White House became combative in not dealing with them. Over the years, the Coalition has unbeknowingly fallen into the White House pest category because they would not go away.
They shouldn’t go away.
The Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations has sent out tons and tons of press releases over the years. Not one (let me repeat, NOT ONE) mainstream news outlet has invited them in to talk about their efforts or about this Black officer who did indeed pave the way for a Colin Powell. Even Cong. Barbara Lee and Cong. Charles Rangel have written letters to the White House to get this Black soldier recognized for the patriot he was. The White House still refuses. President Obama refuses.
Now I want you, citizens of the U.S.A., to back up and take in account the adjectives ‘posthumous’ and ‘honorary’ promotion.
The Coalition has invited countless times the President and/or his representative to events honoring Col. Young. The White House has not formally declined these invitations; it has simply ignored them. That’s how pests are treated. That’s how the Coalition has been treated.
Yet, to reiterate this African American President did not hesitate to jump in the raucous over a Muslim-American patriot who died serving this nation. The hell with the Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations and Col. Young! They don’t rank in the politically correct world; their cause doesn’t rank in the politically correct world of white mainstream journalism which certainly has no problem covering Black Lives Matter but could give less than a damn about Black soldiers’ lives mattering, too! This mainstream media has no qualms in starting a firestorm over this Muslim-American patriot soldier being respected when both of these soldiers’ contributions are worthy of note. Should a stretch of time make Col. Young’s contribution less so? Does the spilling of a soldier’s blood make it less worthy over time because it once resided inside a black skin vessel?
It is a despicable shame that this Commander-in-Chief in particular has chosen to punish the Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations. We can only hope that whatever candidate becomes the next president and commander-in-chief will do right by Col. Charles Young and will not back the bold-faced lie that this White House has given that Young cannot be given an honorary promotion (and do underline ‘honorary’) because his records were destroyed in a 1973 fire when evidence abounds on what he contributed to the safety of this nation. When the Smithsonian Institution and other historical entities can find such evidence, then what is this White House’s problem?
For those who regardless of race, color, or religion want to give their support to the Coalition on this ‘matter’, they may email the Coalition’s chairman, Charles Blatcher, III at firstname.lastname@example.org . And for the record, the Coalition did not enlist my help, but when we received their numerous press releases, we joined the cause, and as God is my witness, we shall not leave this ‘matter’ alone. We can only hope that the new president will not either. It is beyond time to extend respect to the Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations. It is beyond time to extend honor to all soldiers and veterans who protect this nation and treat them as human beings and not as war fodder!
Let Col. Young truly rest in peace! Let history—his story—be told!
*The above is on the Editorial and Op/Ed Lanes on The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway at http://www.blackinformationhighway.com . Welcome, Travelers!