Know Your History
Monday January 20, 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the day of service in remembrance of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is a national holiday that is renown for the struggle that many endured to ensure that Dr. King’s legacy is not just left to the annals of history as it is for the man himself. That being the case Dr. King’s image has undergone a “whitewash”. This happens when an iconic figure from a hegemonic culture accrues historic acclaim. Dr. King to many has become African American’s Joan of Arc. The civil rights’ era sacrificial lamb who gave his life for social justice. His remembrance is uttered whenever the dominant culture needs to quell an uprising from the underclass. Such may have been the case on Monday, January 20th, 2020.
Doris Miller was a 2nd class mess attendant on the USS West Virginia. On December 7, 1941 at approximately 8:00AM the first torpedo struck the then state of the art aircraft carrier causing a battle station alert. Miller, the 19-year-old son of Texas sharecroppers, was just two years into his naval service, enlisted hoping to see the world and perhaps come home with the prospect of a good job. The Navy was segregated, and mess (kitchen) was the only duty in which black men like Miller could serve. He had no gunnery training. During the heat of battle, he would be expected to feed ammunition to the white man operating one of the ship’s .50-caliber Browning anti aircraft weapons. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor his initial orders were to carry injured soldiers from the flight deck to safety. Miller knew he could do more to save his crew. He jumped behind one of the unmanned Brownings, swung it skyward and fired until his belt was empty and crew members were ordered to abandon ship. After Dec. 7, Miller was hailed in news reports only as an “unnamed Negro messman hero.” Until Monday, January 20th, 2020, Miller’s heroics were left to the annals of Hollywood. Seventy-eight years after the act, the Navy named a $12.5 billion aircraft carrier in his honor, on the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is the first aircraft carrier named for a black sailor, and joins the growing list of Navy dining halls, YMCA branches, parks, schools and American Legion posts to bear his name.
If one finds oneself lost in the significance of this occurrence you may be cited for sleeping at the wheel. The United States is under questionable leadership that will use any media worthy distraction to focus public attention away from the historic corruption of the current administration. Keep the under class fighting against themselves. White nationalist will decry Miller’s remembrance as they did Dr. King’s, while African Americans will be divided once we awaken to the occurrence. Is this the latest “Wag the Dog” public relations ploy by an administration whose expertise is media manipulation? Doris Miller’s remembrance deserves better!