November 24, 2022

By Wendy Gladney

 

The Korean War, also known as the Forgotten War, was fought between North and South Korea during the early 1950’s.  World War II ended just five years before the Korean War and it was originally thought that the United States would stay out of this one, but President Truman and others thought differently.

I do not remember hearing much about this war and the contributions of Black Americans. Although one of my uncles fought in this war, it was never a discussion around the dining room table.

I was born in 1961 and by then, everyone was talking about the Vietnam War, which I also had another uncle who fought in this war. Thankfully, more war movies are including the stories about the contributions of Black Americans. 

One such story is told in the movie “Devotion” starring Jonathan Majors, who plays the Navy’s first Black aviator Jesse Brown. You might be more familiar with Jonathan Majors from his role in the movie, “The Harder They Fall,” where he starred along with Idris Elba.

 

“Devotion” is directed by Black director JD Dillard and the movie has a special meaning for him because 40 years after Jesse earned his wings in the U.S. Navy, Dillard’s father earned his Navy wings and ultimately became the second Black member of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels squadron.

Jesse Brown’s story is one of growing up as the son of a sharecropper in Mississippi and overcoming poverty and segregation in the South while as a young boy having a dream to become a pilot. The movie takes place during the Korean War and shares the untold story about the relationship and friendship of two men, Thomas Hudner (White) and Jesse Brown.

Relationships can be tough even in the best of circumstances.  When we think about what the climate was like in our country during the 1950’s with racism, segregation, and hate (sadly we are dealing with some of these same issues today), it is nice to see an example of brotherly love and concern that crosses the color barrier. 

Together they became the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen, they were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and an Air Medal, just to mention a few. Both of these elite Navy fighter pilots were credited with changing the course of the Korean War because of their success in one of the most dangerous missions of the war.

The movie also showed Jesse as a family man, and I appreciated the relationship he had with his devoted wife, Daisy, played by Christina Jackson. Though he was a great patriot, he was adversely affected by the racist and hurtful things that were said and done to him while in the military.

There was a scene in the movie that really brought it home for me, when a Black gentleman of lower rank presented Jesse with a watch from the other Black soldiers.  On the back of the watch was the inscription, “Above All Others.” This message could have so many different meanings, but what I took away from it was that no matter what his race, he stood above the crowd.  

Unfortunately, during a mission Jesse died due to wounds from his plane being shot down.  Although his life was cut short, Jesse accomplished much and died a hero, not just for Blacks, but for all Americans. I think all our veterans and active military men and women are heroes and I appreciate their service and commitment to keeping us safe from foreign and domestic enemies.

Healing Without Hate: It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on.

Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.

Category: Featured News