Memorial Day Tradition
Posted by Jack Stephens on May 25, 2007
The Air Force was the first place where my father was given expectations and expected to meet them. Not fail, but meet and/or exceed high expectations. My father left the Air Force believing in himself for the first time. With that belief and some nice ‘thanks for your service now get yourself an education, son’ funding he struggled yet succeeded to get an education then build the life he dreamed of as a bitterly poor young man so long ago.
And that belief ran head on into the reality of American during the mid 1960’s…into the reality of prejudice and racism…into the harshness of guaranteed failure and low if not no expectations. Like so many, my father’s military service only took him so far before segregation came into play. But like so many, his service showed him that he could…should, but for the color of his skin, go farther. I have always believed that my father would never have become committed to social justice if his experience post service hadn’t been dehumanizing by comparison.