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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:53 AM
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Tuskegee Airmen reflect on Obama inauguration
Tuskegee Airmen reflect on Obama inauguration
By Darlene Superville - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jan 20, 2009 22:01:49 EST

WASHINGTON Watching as Barack Obama became Americas first black president, members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the countrys first group of black military pilots and crew, had the same feeling: They never expected it would happen, but they sure are glad they lived long enough to see it.

I knew it had to happen, but I didnt expect it so soon, said H.M Cummings of Columbus, Ohio, who witnessed Obamas oath-taking just after noon on Tuesday, bundled up and sitting in a wheelchair at age 89, having come a long distance in time and space from the day during World War II in April 1945 when he suffered the humiliation of racism by the military.

The airmen were invited by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who led the joint congressional committee that planned the inaugural ceremonies. At the time, the California Democrat said it was appropriate to honor these members of the greatest generation who overcame enormous racial barriers to serve their nation.

The Tuskegee Airmen were recruited into an Army Air Corps program that trained blacks to fly and maintain combat aircraft. They trained as a segregated unit at an air base in Tuskegee, Ala.

After fighting the Nazis, they returned home to the country they helped defend and faced discrimination instead of the jubilation, parades and awards typically afforded Americas heroes.

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