National Treasures among us: Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen

5:16 PM, Jan 15, 2012   |    comments
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"It's my mission that everyone knows. We must know," Brown said.

She was an adult before she really understood the American history that her father, Lawrence Brown, was a part of. He never talked about it as she grew up. Very few of the World War II veterans at that time did. Brown never read about it in the history books either.

"My dad was a very humble, quiet man and he was very smart," she said.

Her dad was a flight officer and was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Candy Brown still has his Air Force handbook, full of names and hand-written messages from other men who volunteered to become American's first black military airmen in the 1940's. They were trained in Tuskegee, Ala., in the heart of the Deep South.

"We need to remember the guys who they thought couldn't do this at all. They called it an experiment, the Tuskegee experiment. They were set up to fail and they were requested as bomber escorts," Brown said.

They became elite bomber escorts and known as "Red Tails." The group got the military's permission to paint the tails of their aircraft red. That way when they arrived to help, everyone knew they were there.

"Red Tails" is the name of George Lucas' new movie. It recreates some of the battles these men were a part of and shares their story of overcoming the odds that were continually placed on them.

"They are a reminder to us all to have a dream and not to let anyone ever tell you that you can't reach it," Brown said.

After her father died, she found many more souvenirs from that historic time tucked away in closets, including her Dad's military travel bag.
She still has it now.
"It still had the tag from a Greyhound bus and I remember I got welled up because I thought, 'oh my gosh, he probably had to sit at the back of the bus even in his uniform,'" she said.
The Airmen came back to the United States, after fighting in the war, to a country where segregation was prevalent.
Almost 20 years later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. The legislation attempted to deal with the problem of African Americans being denied the vote in the Deep South.

Brown says her Dad and all the others who followed what many called an unattainable dream, are the treasures she is most proud of.

On January 22 there is a special event honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. It is called "Dinner and a Movie. With Living American Heroes," at the Movie Tavern at 18605 E. Hampden Ave. in Aurora.

You can buy tickets at On Laughter Silvered Wings is sponsoring the event along with the Daniel Graham foundation, Trahan Youth Foundation, and Colorado Black Health Collaborative.

The event is a fundraiser for the scholarship fund for the local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and for On Laughter Silvered WingS. Both organizations dedicated to education through aviation. The local chapter is the Hubert L. "Hooks" Jones Chapter.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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