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Being a Black Veteran isn't Always Happy

Westside Gazette - 12/30/2019

Beyond the Rhetoric


Let us repeat our first paragraph from Part I: "America is in love with its veterans. That's the way it should be. Veterans who served in our military to provide security and a safe future for our citizens. These are our heroes and we should respect and appreciate the sacrifices they make for us. However, the love and bravery they show is not always appreciated. A big determinant and indicator as to how that veteran is going to be treated is his race or the race of those who make the decision to honor or ignore his efforts.

Harry lost two good friends during the Vietnam War. First, let's talk about Patrick G. Fitzsimmons. Pat went to Buena High School in Ventura, California while Harry matriculated at Oxnard High School in nearby Oxnard, California. They were both football stars during their high school days and went on to Ventura Community College to further their education as well as hone-in on their football skills in hopes of playing major college ball.

Harry met his goals and played for the University of Wisconsin, graduated in 1970 and was inducted into the Army (via the Draft) in 1971. Pat, however, had some trouble keeping up his grades and entered the Army January 4, 1970. His tenure in the Army took off like a rocket. He became a Warrant Officer and a helicopter pilot. He started his Vietnam Tour on January 4, 1970.

Pat, while on reconnaissance, was shot down on August 24, 1970. Some of his crew survived but Pat was killed instantly. Pat's service and sacrifice gave him instant hero status. He received formal hero ceremonies and the football stadium where (ProQuest: ... denotes text stops here in original.)