Missing From National Anthem's History
Last updated 9/9/2020 at 4:48pm
In the Sept. 3 issue, Mr. Brendle provided important facts about the “Star Spangled Banner,” including being first sung at a baseball game in 1918 in remembrance of U.S. soldiers recently killed. What Mr. Brendle did not acknowledge was the military service of black Americans nor the drastic treatment of black soldiers.
In World War I over 350,000 black soldiers served in a segregated military. Almost one million black soldiers or 6.5 percent of those overseas served in World War II in a segregated military, and while blacks accounted for 11 percent of the total U.S. population, they accounted for 14 percent of the deaths in the Vietnam War.
Now integrated, there has still been no black Marine general. White veterans of World War I and World War II returned to “hero parades.” Black veterans returned to no parades, Jim Crow apartheid laws and jobs paying unsustainable wages.
The most significant factor influencing the development of the U.S. middle class and the post-World War II economic growth, the largest economic growth in history, was the GI Bill. This bill provided access to college education and home ownership which otherwise would not have been affordable. However, black GIs were denied entry to colleges and home ownership in the suburbs. The FHA implemented “redlining” policies that negatively rated black or integrated neighborhoods requiring banks to charge much higher interest and down payments. This led to the development of the white wealthy suburbs and poor inner-city neighborhoods, which persist today. White GIs’ children went to well-funded public schools. Black GIs’ children went to under-funded segregated schools, often, as in Brevard, having to be bussed long distances to the nearest “black school.” Home ownership and quality education are the most significant factors influencing wealth accumulation, and the effect of this disparity of accumulated wealth continues to today.
Both black and white GIs fought and died for the United States and saluted our flag while doing so. However, they returned to two different countries, a fact that people of privilege who received the benefits want to ignore when talking about tradition and patriotism.