"It is only when men contemplate the greatness of God that they can come to realize their own inadequacy." Jean Calvin
Ironic, isn't it? These men selflessly went to war in Europe to fight for freedom while they couldn't use a public restroom meant for "whites only" in the Jim Crow South of their own country. No welcome wagon for them.Years after his return, Shambrey told his son Tim about how he and other soldiers traveled to segregated Alabama to pick up their discharge papers.
Stepping off the train with a handful of his friends, Shambrey saw a hospitality station where women in nursing uniforms welcomed returning soldiers home with a handshake and a free cup of coffee.
The women did not greet the black soldiers, who had to pay a nickel for their coffee, Tim Shambrey said.
"Being who they were, they didn't cause any mess or trouble," he said. "They paid and went and got the discharge papers."
In death, two Tuskegee Airmen, lifelong friends, share final journey - LA Times
So then I'm left to ponder: Was America great because it "stood for something," or was America great because it had people who felt it was still worth dying for even as they were denied the full benefit of the freedoms it offered to its white citizens? I'd say the latter is closer to the truth.
The British perspective has been that, in Western Europe, we stood alone against Germany after the rest of Europe had fallen (or remained neutral) between 1941 and 1943. We could say that we were alone while the USA was trying its best to find reasons to stay out of the war, given the very strong German ethnic influence in the USA. The British were also in the Far East in WW2 though admittedly in much smaller numbers than the US and with little success. We also often forget the Eastern Front and Russia's massive contribution. But like I said to Ahlevah, the US's contribution to the defence of Britain and liberation of Europe was massive and we should be forever grateful for it.