Legacy for jus­tice

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS -

In writ­ing the book, Brizill not only un­cov­ered what hap­pened while Miller was alive, but also the im­pact he had and con­tin­ues to have even after his ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

Brizill ex­plained that while the United States and its al­lies were fight­ing fas­cism abroad, Amer­ica had its own chal­lenges brew­ing at home that made life par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult for black mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

“In World War II, AfricanAmer­i­cans had to fight two wars: we had to fight racism at home and our en­e­mies over­seas,” he said.

With the coun­try ini­tially be­ing slow to award Miller for his ser­vice, Brizill said it took the hard work of civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tions to push for any level of recog­ni­tion.

“He had some pow­er­ful peo­ple ad­vo­cat­ing for him, pow­er­ful civil rights and African-Amer­i­can or­ga­ni­za­tions ad­vo­cat­ing for him,” Brizill said. “The fact that he got the Navy Cross was be­cause of a pres­sure cam­paign that was put on the mil­i­tary and the pres­i­dent at the time, Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt.”

A few years after Miller’s story was re­vealed, Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man in­te­grated the armed forces by way of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

Brizill said the AfricanAmer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence in World War II laid the ground­work for the civil rights move­ment in ‘50s and ‘60s, as or­ga­ni­za­tions launched pres­sure cam­paigns to se­cure the rights for black peo­ple in the U.S.

“When you see AfricanAmer­i­cans in the mil­i­tary to­day that are in se­nior po­si­tions, that are in highly skilled po­si­tions, Dorie Miller’s legacy I think has a lot to do with that,” he said. “He opened doors with his ac­tions on Dec. 7, 1941.”

As the U.S. comes up on the an­niver­sary of the Pearl Har­bor at­tack, Brizill said there is still time for Miller to be fully rec­og­nized for what he gave to this coun­try.

“One of the things I do ad­vo­cate is that it’s not too late for Dorie Miller to be awarded the Con­gres­sional Medal of Honor. I chal­lenge peo­ple in my book to con­tact their con­gressper­son and sen­a­tor to rec­og­nize him and give him the Con­gres­sional Medal of Honor. I think that would be a fit­ting tribute for what he did,” he said.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF US NAVY

Doris “Dorie” Miller’s hero­ism on Dec. 7, 1941, has been de­picted in Hol­ly­wood movies and doc­u­men­taries, but the sailor never got to see them, trag­i­cally dy­ing in ac­tion two years after his heroic acts dur­ing the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor.

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