Do Black Heroines Matter?
Remember Jessica Lynch? The first American POW to be rescued alive since World War II. Blond, blue-eyed, and first-ever female POW.
What about the name Shoshana Johnson? That name ring a bell?
I was shocked to discover Shoshana was captured POW the same time as Jessica, but not rescued for another 13-days.
Oh, and she's black, the first U.S. African American female POW. Below Shosana is being interviewed while in captivity in Iraq, March, 2003.
By the time Shoshana came home, the army and news media had made Jessica Lynch an American hero, the girl-next-door who'd been shot and stabbed and still kept firing. Actually, she was hurt in a Humvee crash and her gun jammed before she could get off a shot.
Lori Piestewa. Recognize that name? She was there with Jessica Lynch. She was captured, too!
But Lori died in captivity.
The first American woman to die in Iraq, the first-ever Native American woman to die in combat outside the U.S. (Below: Lori Piestewa-day she deployed to Iraq)
Lori, a Hopi, was the mother of two children. The name Hopi means "Peaceful People" and when the U.S. Cavalry occupied their ancestral lands, the Hopi with stayed true, offering nonviolent resistance.
Lori believed in peace, but the army offered a good job when she had few options. It was a chance to build a better life for her children.
Jessica and Lori had become friends in basic training. They grew even closer when they were assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company as roommates at Fort Bliss. When the 507th got orders to the Middle East, Lori was not on the list to go because of an injury. Jessica's job as a quartermaster supply clerk was not a combat position, but she was nervous about heading to a war zone.
Lori had a premonition that Jessica or someone else in her unit would get into danger in Iraq, and she wanted to be there to help. She convinced her superiors to add her to the list for deployment.
Three days into the war-- disaster struck.
A U.S. Army investigation blamed the ambush of the 507th on navigational and human error, lack of rest and communication problems. Eleven soldiers died and nine were injured.
The unit had been on its way to Baghdad, the tail end of a 600-vehicle convoy. It’s heavier, slower vehicles bogged down in the sand, fell behind and got lost. After wandering through the desert for hours, the support group of clerks, repairmen and cooks took a wrong turn and stumbled into the city of Nasiriyah. They were surrounded and attacked by paramilitary forces loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Here, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Curney Russell provides a steady arm for Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson after she and four male POWs were rescued in April 2003, Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch still suffer from their physical and psychological wounds. In Shoshana's case, the army initially refused to treat her PTSD. Lori Piestewa's family was comforted to hear, like Jessica, she never fired her gun during the ambush. Lori died a Hopi, trying to help a friend.
Click here for the memorial fund for Lori Ann Piestewa's children. Scroll to the bottom of page 3.
U.S. military recruiters target people with few options for education and employment. They sign up black women in numbers highly disproportionate to white women. In Iraq and Afghanistan African American women have also died in higher numbers.
Do black and brown lives matter?
The battles in the Irish Parliament this week make me feel a little less embarrassed about the bitter gridlock in American politics. But mostly, I'm sick at heart about why we can't do better. Working together demonstrates our humanity.
But ants work together better than humans.
Each ant selflessly does their own job and the whole colony works together to achieve a common goal. But did you know that different species of ants who hate each other co-exist and work together? Compare that to the United States Congress.
In 1939, a republican senator, Elizabeth Norse got together with a democrat senator, Robert Wagner. They both wanted to do something in response to Germany's Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews. The two worked together on legislation to allow 20,000 German Jewish children to immigrate to the United States.
Members on both sides of Congress came together to support the legislation, including former President Herbert Hoover, who'd led efforts that restricted immigration ten years earlier.
I wish this story had a happy ending. But opponents mobilized against the bill. President Franklin D. Roosevelt remained silent on the issue, and congress killed it. I wish we would learn more from history.
Did you know during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, citizens of New York City righteously criticized the authorities in Salem for convicting people on the basis or hysterical witnesses, executing them on little actual evidence?
Did you know 50-years later, New Yorkers--fearing not the devil, but a slave revolt--conducted their own witch hunt complete with hysterical witnesses and deadly justice? Remembered as the "Bonfires of the Negroes," 17 blacks were hanged, along with 4 white "ringleaders," 13 African slaves were burned at the stake and 70 more shipped to the Caribbean and sold. I wish we could learn more from history.
Enough depressing stories. Please tell me you believe there is life after Donald Trump! Share your hope that we can work together for better.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
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