Tuskegee Airmen honored in New York

PUBLIC DOMAIN The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American airmen, were honored on veterans day with the Medal of Honor.
The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American airmen, were honored on veterans day with the Medal of Honor.

Five Tuskegee Airmen were honored with the Congressional Golden Medal in New York on Veteran’s Day.

Representative Christopher Collins gave the men their awards.

He spoke to USAToday about how they challenged segregation.

He  said “At a time in our history when African Americans faced tremendous prejudice, the five being honored here today remained committed to serving their country and laid the foundation so that anyone could serve, no matter their race,“ according to USAToday.

Of the five airmen honored, two were present to accept their award at the National Warplane Museum, Wallace C. Higgins and Herbert Thorpe. Three deceased airmen’s family members accepted their honors for them. Thorpe’s brother Richard was one of the deceased, along with Robert M. Johnson and Leland H. Pennington. All three were killed in service during WWII.

Senior Niyah Graves is a youth ministries major and member of Multicultural Organization of Students Active in Christ, MOSAIC, on the John Brown University campus. Graves recognized the significance of honoring minority veterans in our country.

“This shows that even as a minority, what you do, like serving our country, has an impact. It’s great to see them being able to just know that what they’re doing is worthy of honor and can be awarded,” Graves said.

Graves said she was also glad to hear that those who are deceased were still awarded and able to be accepted by their families on behalf of the airmen.

Senior Zoe Shafer, a biblical and theological major, is the founder of a group known as Eagle Society, a cause started up to bring recognition to veterans in the JBU community. Shafer said she was happy to learn that these veterans were honored. “We need to make sure that all races in our country are appreciated.”

Shafer hopes to continue this same appreciation for veterans on the JBU campus. 

“It’s very important [to] remember veterans and help them in any way we can. Getting groceries, spending time with them, helping out with the American legion. Just very basic things to help them know that they are loved and remembered,” Shafer said.

Shafer fears it is all too easy to forget about our veterans on a college campus.

“There are veterans at our school, in our community, and it’s something we need to start recognizing…The way we live, we would have a completely different lifestyle if it weren’t for their service.”

In 2007, President George W. Bush presented the Congressional Golden Medal that honored all the men and women involved in the Tuskegee Airmen program.