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 James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA
James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA

I have heard that it takes a “big man” to admit when he is wrong. I guess that I must be “colossal” because not only am I willing to admit that I was wrong, I am going to admit my error in public to the entire readership of African-American News&Issues. I guess that it is only natural for you to wonder, what was I wrong about?

Although I am now extremely embarrassed to admit it, there was a prolonged period during my undergraduate and graduate tenure at THE Ohio State University that I took extreme issue with African-American men and women who enlisted in the U.S. Military, it did not matter to me which branch they choose, they were all traitors to the pending Black Revolution.

At the time, I was most certainly an individual ‘who had eyes, yet could not see. Had ears, yet could not hear.’ 

I failed to realize that by not only not supporting, but also denying the contributions of African-American servicemen and servicewomen to both this nation and my life, I was willingly and foolishly relinquishing a legacy bequeathed to me by not only a nameless brigade of courageous African-American freedom fighters, but also quite a few whose blood ran through my veins.

I was shocked to learn that my great uncle Mr. Windham was actually a ‘Buffalo Soldier’, a fact that I did not learn until I was sitting in a church reading his eulogy. More recently, I have had Uncles (Steve, Richard, Kenneth, Danny) who placed their lives on the line in different branches of the U.S. Military.

It is the service of African-American men and women in the U.S. Military that provided me the ability to irrationally stand in public and charge them with being ‘sell-outs’ and traitors to their race. I now know that they realized that ‘I knew not what I do’ and gave me a much needed pass in regards to discussing this issue.

Additionally, the military service of these courageous African-American men and women also gifted me with an undeniable claim to the riches and opportunities that this land, and only this land, has available for those who are willing to work hard for them.

There is no doubting that African-Americans have served this nation at each and every moment that it was threatened by an external entity. It is their blood that has stained this soil and allow for each and every African-American to lay a claim to citizenship.

So it is with a humbled heart that has every intention of recognizing the voluminous gifts that the most courageous of our race have bequeathed to us that I ask that each and every one of us honor them on this Memorial Day. They fought for our freedoms and asked for nothing in return. I am proud to say that I now recognize those contributions and vow to never again abuse them.