Written by: Kelly Meade (3/29/2016)
Fathom Events continued their one night only special event/film showings on March 29, 2016 with In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airman – The 75th Anniversary.
This documentary film features a moving retelling of the experiences of the men who were members of the prestigious Tuskegee Airmen in WWII as told by the men themselves. We hear of the trials & terrible prejudice they faced because of the harsh laws and regulations of the times. These brave men share their own stories from life before joining the Airmen, through the training process they endured at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama as well as the ways they put that training into practice during war time.
Their passion for flying & drive to serve their country is inspiring. We learn that only the best – smartest, strongest and most dedicated, completed the program and became members of the group. They endured rigorous physical & mental testing to complete the program to become America’s first African-American fighter pilots. The men tell of the segregation laws that they faced outside the Tuskegee Institute which forced the men to choose to stay within the Institute which strengthened the bond between them.
Ninety-nine men were chosen to go overseas for further training. These pilots performed several high risk maneuvers to defeat the enemy. They also served as escort and protection for bomber planes fending off enemy fire.
Also included are interviews with wives of the men who share what it was like to be home in the US as the men were overseas serving. One of the most heartbreaking stories was told by a man who was held captive as a Prisoner Of War for nine months as he shares what he went through and sights he witnessed.
Upon arriving back in America, these heroes were met by the sad reality that segregation was still very much in effect and they were treated just as poorly as before they had left to fight for their country. The Tuskegee Airmen sparked the beginning of the civil rights movement as they began to stand up for their rights leading to not only the desegregation of the military, but also breaking down barriers of color in America. Years later, their contributions & sacrifice were finally recognized by their country. Their legacy is one that needs to stay alive and their story continued to be shared as a highly respected and important part of our nation’s history.