On September 18, 1998, at 10:00 a.m. in Section 2E of Arlington National Cemetery the thousands of American sailors of African and Asian descent who served faithfully in peace and fought valiantly in war despite infamous discriminatory conditions as officer's mess attendants, cooks and stewards will receive a long overdue tribute when a monument is unveiled and a cedar tree is planted in their honor.
The ceremony is open to the public; and the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, Members of Congress, and other dignitaries along with veterans of every race, rank and branch of service have been invited to attend.
The event is sponsored by the Units K-West and B-East, U.S. Navy Mess Attendants Reunion Booster Club, Inc., an organization of African American Navy veterans, their families and their friends. It will be the highlight of the organization's 22nd annual gathering at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, Virginia–September 17 through 20, 1998. The group derives its unusual name from the racially segregated training camps in Norfolk, Virginia where Black recruits were trained for naval service from 1933 to 1942.
The memorial itself will, however, be dedicated to all those who served: those of Asian-Pacific extraction as well as those of African heritage. Contrary to popular belief, those who formerly served in the racially segregated and therefore denigrated mess attendant/steward branches of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps were also trained for duty at critical ship-board battle stations.
During the Second World War they proudly upheld the honor of their country and their ethnic groups aboard practically every fighting ship in the U.S. fleet, while earning some of the nation's highest decorations for valor. Over 1,172 were killed in action or died in combat-connected operations during the course of that greatest of all naval wars–from the very start of hostilities through the final hours. Their legacy of heroism and patriotic sacrifice is finally to be acknowledged.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard