Some Perspective On Race From A White Former Marine

No, I am not the Marine in question.   That would be my father in law, who passed away in 2015.  The folded up flag from his casket sits in our dining room along with his picture.

He was born in 1933.  He pretty much lived in the same town his entire life.  He worked at a steel mill, luckily one that lasted longer than many in the area and was able to retire securely.  He put both of his daughters through college.  When my wife and I bought our first house(cheaper than some cars, btw), she had enough money on hand to pay for half.  He personally loaned me the rest of the money.  He also tirelessly helped anytime I had a project to do around the house that I couldn’t handle entirely by myself.  I learned how to do my own plumbing from watching him work.  I owe him a lot.

When he was seventeen years old, he enlisted in the Marines to fight in the Korean War, with permission from his mother.

He must have returned quite a bit different than he left, having been to war and having seen something of the world.  I don’t know all the particulars, but he spent a little time in Europe on the way back from Korea.  He was also stationed for a bit somewhere in the southern US, I think Virginia, but I may be mistaken.

He knew African-Americans in the service and was friendly with them.  It really bothered him when they tried to go out to bars when not on duty and he found that black folks were not allowed in the same bars as white folks.  This especially galled him because he knew that they, like himself, had joined the Marines and fought for their country, risking their lives.

This is something that stayed with him his entire life.  He told my wife the stories about trying to go to the bars with black soldiers many times.  He also often told her,  “If I was a black guy, I think i’d kill every white guy I saw.”  I don’t know what he would have thought of a Trump presidency, but I know he voted for Obama, twice.

So, when I hear that Obama divided the country racially, I have to shake my head.  There has been a racial divide in the US as long as the country has existed.  Many good people have fought and even died for racial equality and justice.  They protested and marched peacefully, even as they were beaten and killed.  Just remember that white folks have held the vast majority of power in government at state, federal and local levels for all of that time, 241 years, at the time of writing.

 

 

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