We’re not “Minorities”. We’re Veterans. We’re Americans.

20Sep15

This essay was cowritten with fellow Iraq veteran author Steven Hildreth Jr.

We aren’t blind to the past.

Yes, many Americans have suffered horrible, unforgivable racism. Some Americans continue to suffer today. Yet we two soldiers, one black and one Hispanic, chose to risk our lives for this country. We served in combat, alongside soldiers of other races, against an enemy who cared nothing of the color behind the American flags on our sleeves.

We didn’t do it because we believe America is perfect. We deal in brutal realities, and we know those realities. One of us grew up with a family legend about Texas Rangers executing a great-great grandfather and his brothers. One of us was introduced to racism by being a rare minority in a majority-white school, and dealing with racial epithets. One of us had his parents kicked out of a restaurant, while his father was serving in the military, because “we don’t serve your kind here.”

We acknowledge those sins. But we don’t believe, for a moment, that those sins define our country today. We refuse to poison our children’s minds with the lie that their race lessens their value as citizens, or restricts their boundless opportunities. We choose to embrace what we know to be right about America, rather than dwell on what was wrong.

Let’s discuss facts. Slavery was terrible. But no white person in America alive today owned or sold African slaves. Jim Crow was terrible. But most of those responsible for Jim Crow are dead, and those few who aren’t wield no power. Holding any white person today responsible for the wrongs of the past is not just illogical, it’s wrong and stupid. Redefining racism as “systemic,” effectively giving a pass even to those minorities who openly advocate murders of innocent whites, isn’t just wrong and stupid. It’s wrong, stupid, and pathetic.

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You want to be considered equal? Then demand to be held to the same standard as whites. And live by that same standard.

Over fifty years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is clear that race relations have regressed rather than progressed, particularly with racial subcultures who more often than not opt to self-segregate in cultural, political, and day-to-day fashions. Homogenization is the antithesis of American multiculturalism; America is about osmosis of culture, of appreciating and celebrating our differences while realizing we’re in the same boat and must work together to advance as a nation and a culture-at-large. People so focused on the past that they actively blame people today, for yesterday’s mistakes, are actively opposed to the American “melting pot.”

To that end, there are people, of multiple races, who seek to “erase” the past and its symbols. Those people should stop. Seeking to ban symbols one may not fully understand only serves to foment racial tensions and deepen the chasm.

One thing that actually closes that chasm is what we two authors have in common: military service. The military is one of the greatest mechanisms for making people realize we’re all Americans. The kind of people listed in the two paragraphs above would not fare well in the military, particularly if they were to work outside the wire (as we authors have). There is something about an enemy trying to kill you that hammers home a message: we’re all Americans of the same cloth and we must work together, not only for advancement, but for self-preservation. That may come off as a cavalier sentiment, but it is one to which any combat vet will attest.

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Of course, there are several reasons why people join the military: family tradition, college benefits, thirst for adventure, what have you. But at the end of the day, it is rare that a veteran hangs up his uniform for the last time without a sense of patriotism. Regardless of their race or any other background factor, they come to appreciate that the sweat, blood, and tears they and their mates spilled counted for something greater than themselves.

The lessons learned patrolling dusty third-world streets and dodging gunfire in remote valleys carry over to civilian life. Those who fail to study the past are doomed to repeat it, but we should have more sense than to blame people in the here and now for mistakes of yesterday. We study those mistakes as a form of after-action review: how can we do better and move forward? That’s not just for blacks to move forward, or for Latinos to move forward, or whites, or Asians. We’re concerned with how Americans can move forward.

We’re concerned with how Americans can move forward because we believe in the principles established by the Founding Fathers. We believe in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe in the rugged individualism embodied by our Constitution. We acknowledge that our government has not always abided by those principles in practice, but we know the American people, through the work of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, have eventually held the government accountable to those promises.

We also fervently believe in defending what has been built, in defending the progress our nation has made. To that end, both authors have put on a uniform, picked up a weapon, and answered the nation’s call to service. We are not the first. The Japanese internment was one of our nation’s greatest mistakes, yet the Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team answered the call during the Second World War because they believed in the nation’s principles, even if the government failed to live up to them. Over nine thousand Purple Hearts, eight Presidential Unit Citations, and twenty-one Medals of Honor were awarded to the 442nd, a testament to the ferocity with which they defended their nation.

The 332nd Fighter Group (also known as the Tuskegee Airmen) also answered that call during the Second World War. At the height of Jim Crow these men opted to not only serve their country, but did so by breaking color barriers, proving that blacks were just as competent at dogfighting as their white counterparts.

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A more recent example is Team 2/6, Company F, 51st Infantry LRP (Airborne), a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol that consisted entirely of black men in Vietnam. In a time where the ghost of Jim Crow was still extremely strong and Muhammad Ali refused to serve because “no Viet Cong ever called [him] nigger,” these men not only answered the call but volunteered for Airborne and then for the LRRPs, one of the most dangerous combat roles in the Vietnam War. They believed in their nation and believed in defending it and its principles from the enemy, even as the nation struggled to live up to those principles.

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Our nation has made many mistakes in the past, some minor and some grievous. We can acknowledge mistakes made and still love this country. Unlike the “blame America first” crowd, we know our nation has done more good than harm. We love our nation. We love the principles upon which it was founded. We embrace the amazing accomplishments of previous generations, and stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Hernandez with Mr. Richard Overton, America's oldest known WW2 veteran

Hernandez with Mr. Richard Overton, America’s oldest known WW2 veteran

So here’s our message to America’s grievance merchants: while you’re busy with your desperate quest to find racial offense, we two are busy living happy, fulfilling lives with fellow Americans of all races…even white ones whom you automatically consider evil.

We are certain some will view us as Uncle Toms or “sellouts to the white man” for our opinions, for daring to think for ourselves, for the stark offense of being Americans first and color-indifferent rather than aligning on racial fault lines. To those people, in closing, we have a quote:

“We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race. We must work with determination to create a society, not where black men are superior and other men are inferior and vice versa, but a society in which all men will live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of human personality.”

Did you find yourself saying that the quote must be from an Uncle Tom sellout?

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It’s from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who endured more hardship and injustice than anybody claiming grievances in the here and now. Dr. King obviously felt that racial supremacy was wrong, and humans banding together for self-betterment was the answer.

We two authors have chosen to band together for self-betterment. Others, of all races, have chosen the path of the racial supremacist. If the racist shoe fits, wear it. But don’t expect us to believe you want fairness, equality, or progress.

Authors:

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

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Steven Hildreth, Jr. is an author, Iraq War veteran and firearms enthusiast who has written for Ranger Up’s Rhino Den and the Force 12 Media Network. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.

http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Hildreth-Jr/e/B009D4YTRO

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11 Responses to “We’re not “Minorities”. We’re Veterans. We’re Americans.”

  1. 1 Jack Braine

    Great article Men. I, like many others, identify with the providers and the producers of this world. There are men like yourselves who make this country great and then there are the cry babies. Please keep up the good work.

  2. I realized at an early age that being born in the south, as I was, and being born in the south in a military family, as I was, were not the same thing. My Father left the farm in rural North Carolina to join the Air Force in 1951. By the time that I came along in ’61 and by the time of his death in ’69, even as a young boy I could see that the attitudes towards race that our family possessed diverged greatly from the attitudes of my Father’s parents, siblings and their children. And I blame this on the military. Even as integration was being carried out in the ’50s, my Father was exposed to other races, ones that he had been taught were inferior, and he realized that they weren’t. That given the same training, in jet engine mechanics as he was, and opportunities, those folks that were different could do what he was doing. And they were good people. That’s what he taught us, that principle that Dr. King espoused, judging on content of character and all. I remember when I got to Parris Island, my Puerto Rican Senior Drill Instructor, SSGT. Torres-Reyes, told us that we were all green. And to prove his point, he thrashed all of us mercilessly. And we all were better for it. So, spread the word Brothers. Spread the truth. Counter the Bull-Shit arguments, from all sides.

  3. 3 Michelle

    It does not serve anyone to be told that they can never be part of society and that everyone is against them, that they are feared and loathed and that they will never be given a chance to have a successful life. The message is that you are beaten before you start, so you might as well not try.

    Unfortunately, many (well meaning) liberals inculcate this mentality to our youth through teachings of select atrocities that occurred during our history. I work at a public library and some of the children’s literature topics are guaranteed to give you nightmares and a sense of resentment against your culture.

    Here is an example

    https://jet.com/product/product/bbdbbdf012634f209c36ff17647b364b?jcmp=pla:ggl:media_a3:books_a3_other:na:na:na:na:na:2&code=PLA15&k_clickid=1764c8de-44cd-4191-bfb1-fe8ebe8c75fb&kpid=bbdbbdf012634f209c36ff17647b364b&gclid=CI_L3LyhhsgCFQeUfgodW84Itw

  4. “So here’s our message to America’s grievance merchants: while you’re busy with your desperate quest to find racial offense, we two are busy living happy, fulfilling lives…”

    That is the fundamental difference between the average American and the grievance mongers.

  5. 5 Vendetta

    Thank you. Don’t have a long response this time around, other than thank you for writing this. Our country is in dire need of this messsage, and not enough people are hearing it over the voices of those with the megaphone and the axes to grind.

  6. 7 michmike

    I have said it before and I will say it again that I met all kinds when I was in the military and all kinds of shades and there will be pieces of shit in every race just as there will be stand up guys as well. It amounts to the person and not the skin color but we have become so polarized in so many ways I am unsure of how to get to a good place. I do not deny racism or that people are treated differently based on race or socioeconomic status but not everyone is like that so please do not make assumptions about me!

    I know Chris has written about this before but I am so tired of everyone feeling that they are entitled to a world where they are not offended in anyway. Suck it up buttercup as yes there are problems but no one promised you a life that did not suck at time where you would not have to deal with raging assholes etc.

    I don’t know, I am just one white guy who is confused as I try to treat everyone with respect but I expect to be treated the same. Yes, I am an asshole sometimes but that has little to with race and more to do with lack of coffee in the morning or my beautiful 7 yo daughter acting like she is possessed while we are at Target!

    Not sure what the answer is but it seems as if the discussion of race cannot be had in polite company!

  7. Reblogged this on The Armed Christian and commented:
    A great perspective from two American heroes:

  8. 9 Danny

    Good article Chris, you know I think the problem here is the political class that rules the country and due to the actions they do when it comes to global conflicts, that makes him criticize the entire country without objectively analyze.

  9. 10 Jim

    Back in ’69 my brothers came in all colors.

  10. 11 DaveWolfy

    Slightly off track here – I believe that some form of National Service is very useful , not necessarily military though.
    Young people would be taken from their environments and placed in a mixed situation with people they would not otherwise have met. They would see that “different” types of people are not so different after all.
    The problems in Northern Ireland would probably cease in a generation if all of the children went to school together – I think that the Catholic church will not allow it. They might even breed with each other – something that might have got one killed some years ago.
    I fail to understand how , in the USofA , that many years of military National Service and mixed schooling have allowed this to happen.


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