Last week, two Airmen (Hogues and Montgomery, members of the 99th) received a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Just when I was beginning to be hopeful about things, I began this project. One of the gentleman told me that as he was travelling by train, Pullman Porters had to ensure the window shades down whenever the train stopped at a siding because angry whites would fire shotguns at the windows if they saw a dark-skinned face in uniform.
Another gentleman-- a pilot who flew the P47 'Thunderbolt ' and P51 "Mustang" said this: "One year I am escorting B-17 bombers over Europe to defeat the Nazis and the next I am in a warehouse pushing a broom and I'm told I should be thankful for the broom...all I ever wanted to do in my life was fly. Can you imagine what this felt like?"
:...thankful for the broom. Wow.'
To be judged by the color of your skin and not by the honor of your actions--the gravitas of your accomplishments. Inestimable heartache.
This project, in many aspects, is a source of sadness for me because I have become 'at one' with the depth of their disappointment and how, even to this day, sadness casts a long, nefarious shadow. There aren't many of the Airmen remaining-- but, I'm going to film as many as will sit across from me and tell their story. One of the gentleman said," For years I didn't tell my family because I thought my service didn't matter." "I risked my life, but no one cared except those alongside me...and when I got back, I felt it didn't matter.