Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. There is some little-noticed history of that conflict. That was the time the army was desegregated for the first time.
This made for real adjustment to many young men who had never had any personal or working relationship with blacks, plus sharing barracks and meals with them.
Being in the service during that time, it was amusing to watch as many white soldiers, caught themselves in the middle of [a] saying [or] word degrading to blacks and embarrassed themselves. Then I could see a real bonding evolve between whites and blacks in our company.
Yesterday I did a Memorial Service in Stockton for Robert Lawrence Wright, a Veteran of that war who had joined the service and served for 20 years. When he first went in the army, the military was segregated and, being black, he felt the sting of prejudice in those early military days.
Bob became very well liked by his fellow soldiers and earned The Bronze Medal of Valor and The Purple Heart. He served with distinction and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was truly an Officer and a Gentleman.
Another sidelight of history would show that it was the Korean War where anti-war demonstrators came into the spotlight even though somewhat subtle at that time, but would blow up into full force during the Viet Nam War, exactly as planned, leaving in its path a new foundation of anti-Americanism that would be perfect for the enemy. This had all been quietly instigated by the Communist Party determined to turn America into a Socialist nation.
The ploy was to bring unrest and chaos which would serve to demoralize a patriotic country and weaken the resolve of America while sapping our strength against any enemy, giving THEM strength to overpower us.
During that time, I was on a troop train from Ft. Sheridan, Illinois to Ft. Riley, Kansas. As we rolled through fields, farm families lined the tracks waving handkerchiefs at us as we went by. It was a good feeling of support.
During basic training, we had our first week-end pass. I hitched a ride to nearby Hutchinson, Kansas on Sunday to go to church. I found a brick traditional church, went in, and took a seat in the back row. The church was packed. Even so, the pastor could see everyone in his church including me in the back row in uniform.
The pastor then proceeded to preach against the war and declared that all soldiers were murderers! My heart sank down into my boots. Being a young man uncertain of my future, I had come for an encouraging and strengthening word. Instead I got this. I kept my seat and left quietly after the service. Not one person in that congregation greeted me or shook my hand.
My morale was crushed. Walking through town a voice called out, "Hey Soldier Boy," A woman on the other side of a fence beckoned. I went over. She called for her sister and said, "Look...look who's here!" Her sister came out and said, "You come in, we're going to seat you at our table and fix dinner for you."
Those two women, whose names I don't even know will never be forgotten for the kindness they showed me. That "pastor" had let me down. And I vowed when I became a pastor that this would never happen in any church I would be with. Indeed, there would be a special outreach to veterans.
The Korean War ushered in a saying that is on VA shuttle buses: "All gave some, some gave all." So very true. God Bless our Veterans.