Friday, March 30, 2007

Tuskegee Airmen awarded Congressional Gold Medal.Washington, D.C. gave a capitol salute to the all-Black World War II fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen on 29 March 2007. In a ceremony beneath the Capitol dome, lawmakers awarded the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the Tuskege Airmen.

President George Bush, standing next to General Collin Powell, told those assembled "THe Tuskegee Airmen helped win a war, and helped change our nation for the better. On behalf of the office I hold, and a country that honors you, I salute you for the service to the United States of America".

House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi called the recognition long overdue. "With the Gold Medal today we take another in the long series of steps toward victory at home".

Louis D. Hill,90, from Los Angeles, California said that he did not mind waiting 60 for such an honor.

Hiram E. Little, 88, of Atlanta, Georgia said "I am blessed to live this long to receive a medal from the United States Congress and the President. Now there is a once-in-a-lifetime thing".

William B. Ellis, 90, whom I last saw at the Los Angeles Adventurers' Club, and who fundly refers to himself as "Wild Bill", chuckled to himself as he recalled being told that Blacks like him couldn't cut it as fighter pilots.

The first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George Washington by the Continental Congress in 17776. Two-thirds of the House of Representatives must co-sponsor legislation to designate recipients, and a similar proportion of the Senate must do the same before a bill can be considered.

Congressman Charles Rangel and Senator Carl Levin were the main sponsors of the Tuskegee Airmen bills.

Congressman Rangel told those gathered at the Capitol Rotunda "Nobody white or Black in this country can understand how God has given you so much courage from a nation that rejected you because of your color".



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