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Race In The Military Essay

3124 words - 13 pages

For as long as man has been alive he has waged war against his enemies for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, in war it is not the politicians or the bureaucrats that fight but the lowly soldier. The soldier is a diverse tool that is a necessity to combat even in the most technologically advanced armies. The men and women who make up these armies have varied over the ages, based on the then, sociological beliefs of who the best fighters would be, based on social views, economics, and physical ability. Three different wars have been selected to show the changing attitudes of race in the military.
The Revolutionary War
The Revolutionary War was a key point in the history of ...view middle of the document...

It was only upon learning of this and realizing the need to enlist blacks, not so much because he sought to give them equal opportunities to fight, but to prevent the British from increasing their military might.
In terms of actual ranks, many black soldiers marched side by side with white soldiers. There were a few all-black units. For the most part however, free blacks shared the same wages as their white counterparts, and those who were slaves, gave their wages to their owners, and were promised emancipation at the end of the war.
As the war went on, the need for more manpower and soldiers became apparent, and many slave owners, rather then entering the war themselves, found it easier and safer to simply offer their slaves as substitutions. One soldier, Thomas Kench, urged the state of Massachuset to use blacks in segregated units, for the same reason that slave owners sent out slaves in place of them. It would be safer for the white soldiers if they did not have to endure war, and left blacks to do the fighting. However, this proposal was rejected.
Racism in the Revolutionary War was seen by many blacks as an opportunity to finally be granted freedom and equality. During the war, they were given equal wages, or promised freedom, and fought side by side in intermixed units. However, discrimination was still apparent. Blacks were banned from enlistment until a need for extra soldiers was seen, and even so, all-black units were formed, and were often sent into battles first, suffering the most loses.
World War II
During the years from 1942 to 1945 male inductees were becoming scarce as the war waged on in Europe and in the Pacific. Although all of the military branches were made up of primarily white males, minority groups played a very vital role to the success of the allied forces. When selective service was put into effect more than 8 million Americans were inducted into various branches of the military. One million of those inductees were classified as Negro. Although all other minorities were present during the war blacks made up the largest minority group, grossing in about 10% of all enlisted service men. (Minority)
Even through dedicated service and the sacrifice of life, discrimination was found even in the face of death. The majority of the black inductees ended up in segregated infantry divisions and on the front lines. They were primarily excluded from the more glorious of military positions such as naval service, the air force, and special tactical forces. The few that did make it into such positions, such as cooks and maintnece, had to fight for their honor and undergo brutal hostility from the very men that were going to be next to them in battle. One such example is of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a small group of African-American pilots. They are today considered to have been some of the finest pilots during the war. Responsible for over a 1,000 German pilot deaths,...

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