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14 Carlisle and the Battle for Memory My search for my father’s war led me to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the home of the Army Military History Institute, which houses many of the records of the 92nd Division. Down the road a short distance from the Army Military History Institute are Carlisle Barracks and the Army War College, where the Carlisle Indian School once stood. General Richard H. Pratt, its founder, fought with the 10th Cavalry, the original Buffalo Soldiers. In 1879, Pratt established his school at Carlisle, having previously begun his industrial training of Indians in 1875 at the prison at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida. The school became a model for many such schools throughout the United States, whose mission was to eliminate the students’ native culture, language, dress, ceremonies, and spiritual beliefs and to “Ameri­ canize them.” Heavy snow blanketed the landscape and the beautiful nineteenth-­ century homes and red brick mansions were adorned by Christmas lights. My trip to Carlisle was essential because General Almond’s role in my father’s war was central. Perhaps aside from Douglas McArthur, few generals have generated such intense feelings as Lieutenant General Edward “Ned” Almond. Almond spent time at the War College and donated over 155 boxes of his papers replete with his diaries and copies of the official unit histories, correspondence, and maps. Having read his oral history conducted by his grandson,Thomas Fergusson, and having heard many stories about him, I had a pretty clear view of the man. I was in search of another, more nuanced view of him. I wanted to be able to see his human side.1 Almond’s personal papers concerning World War II reveal the depth of his racial views. He became even more racist during and after the war than he had been before. Because of his traditional South­ ern upbringing, Almond believed that black people were inferior to white people, and that racial differences were intrinsic and biological. In his reports on the 92nd Division, he blamed literally every reversal in combat on the troops. He took no responsibility whatsoever for such fiascoes as Cinquale Canal or the February offensive. He did not believe African Ameri­ cans could be good combat soldiers. General Almond’s career rose like a meteor as he earned the admiration of George Marshall in World War II 138 / Chapter 14 and Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War. He opposed the integration of the military services and tried to delay it in Korea. Those black soldiers who felt exploited by white officers were angry and bitter about their treatment. Staff Sergeant David Cason Jr. said: “If the 92nd was in the same geographical position in Italy and had been told there were southern crackers up in those mountains, ‘get ’em,’ they would have, myself included, clawed their way up if necessary. We would have waded in our own blood up to our elbows to take them because we would have had a reason: an enemy we knew, despised , and would have enjoyed destroying.The German, what could he mean to us? Nobody bothered to make him our real enemy. . . . He [white man] treated us like boys or animals and then expected us to make Leonidas at Thermopylae Pass.” Cason believed that the real enemy to the black soldier during World War II was “whitey: white Ameri­ can soldiers, white civilians, and the white civilian and military police.”2 Driving out of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the snow was melting. I had come in search of more knowledge of the 92nd Division and a more nuanced view of General Ned Almond, a more human side. Instead, I found an even more racist person than I had perceived before. Almond carried his bitterness about the 92nd Division to the end of his life. He never forgot that day at Fort Huachuca when the black soldiers booed him at the dedication of the new baseball field. Instructors at the Army War College, over which General Almond presided, later remembered him with embarrassment and shame because of his racism, which they believed had no place in the modern army. Some of the Buffalo Soldiers lived to see the first African Ameri­can president, Barack Obama, speak to the returning veterans and heads of state at Normandy on the sixty-­fifth anniversary of D-­Day on June 6, 2009. As the waves crashed on the beach where so many died, he said: For you remind us that in the end, human destiny...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817386207
Related ISBN
9780817317683
MARC Record
OCLC
809774624
Pages
228
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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