Monday, January 11, 2010

Worst Military Disaster on Home Soil Becomes National Park

Black History Month and celebrations are coming up, and it may be good to note that a military disaster that involved predominately black soldiers has been recently commemorated.

Here's a little background. The new National Park sits on an otherwise non-distinct plot of land in Norther California along the Sacramento River. But over 65 years ago, on July 17, 1944, in what was Port Chicago, 320 military men lost their lives. 202 were African American. This was a huge munition depot at the time. And that's what caused the disaster. A huge explosion rocked the compound. The men working had no training handling explosives. After this disaster, the survivors were not exactly lucky. 50 of the all-white officers who were overseeing the men were given 30 days leave to recover, but the black men had to return to work at another munition depot. When most of them refused, they were either given bad conduct discharges or court martialed. They were defended by Thurgood Marshall, who as we know later became a member of the US SUprem Court. The men lost the case and were sentenced to up to 15 years hard labor. These sentences were later tossed out when the war ended.

This is a chapter of World War II history that you may not have been aware of. This incident contributed to President Truman removing all segregation from the armed services.

We support all military personnel and veterans, regardless of color. We judge people by their service to their country. And anyone who serves his or her country faithfully should be respected and supported.

Remember this incident resulted in over 200 servicemen losing their lives. And hardly anyone knows about it.

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