Put Mrs. Obama's comment in context

Recently much has been made about Sen. Barack Obama's wife's comment: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."

 

There are people who do not understand what she meant, so I will try to explain.

I am a retired soldier who volunteered for the Army in 1950. I was part of a segregated military during the Korean War. I was assigned to an all-black unit at Camp Polk, La. We were not given rifles to train with for a long time, even though white units had weapons, Our food was not the same. We were given only one dress uniform while white soldiers had two. I was assigned to an artillery unit, and for training we had to borrow weapons from a white unit to train on. We were authorized liberty passes to go off post, but we blacks could not enter town the front way as the whites did; we also rode in the backs of the buses when going off post.

When President Truman issued the order for the military to integrate, chaos broke loose, but because of Korea the transition went, to some degree, smoothly. But when we returned home we were still denied access to bars, food counters and movies alongside fellow white soldiers.

I say all this to say that this is a time in America like never before, so when Mrs. Obama said for the first time she is proud to be an American, she was just reflecting on her past. America, without a doubt, is the greatest country on Earth, but over the years it has experienced some of the greatest problems, too.

As a veteran, I am proud today to be an American. God bless America!

Joseph Diggs Sr., Augusta

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