He served in WW I and died in 1922. He was mentioned almost in passing in a documentary I stumbled across this morning and I was moved to look him up. A U. S. Army colonel, he's responsible for the road that leads out to Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park (the Army used to patrol some National Parks! Who knew?), among other things. Things like leading a cavalry charge against Pancho Villa, service in the Philippines, military intel work in Haiti and military attache to various U.S Embassies.
In 1917, he was medicaled out with chronic high blood pressure, possibly related to a little problem aggravated by the odious Woodrow Wilson; for you see, Colonel Young was black and one of the officers under him complained he "found it distasteful" to take his orders. The Secretary of War Newton Baker knew how to deal with such nonsense and told the officer: "Do your duty or resign!" ...A ruling that lasted exactly as long as it took for Wilson to find out and overrule. Sidelined, Colonel Young taught college (he'd been in charge of Wilberforce University's Military Science department for some time) until the end of the term, then got on a horse and rode 500-some miles to Washington D.C. to show his fitness. He was 54 at the time. It worked; he was returned to active duty, serving until his death.
1. A brilliant Frank Capra/First Motion Picture Unit (more here) lump-in-your-throat documentary with an interesting history -- the first two scripts were kicked back by the Army, who wanted a down-to-earth documentary rather than drama. Writer Carleton Moss and Director Stuart Heisler put together the third version, which the Army found acceptable; but no one involved was ready for audience reactions : "Nobody was certain what the impact of the film would have on viewers, and many people feared that African Americans would have a negative response to the film. However, when the first African American troops saw the film, they insisted that all African American troops should see it. Furthermore, after both African Americans and whites were surveyed about their response to the film, the filmmakers were shocked when over 80% of the white population thought the film should be shown to both black and white troops, as well as white civilians." Yes, it really is that good; wildly optimistic, perhaps, about attitudes of the day, but accurate and inspiring about individual achievement.
2. Wilson has much to answer for in regard to subsequent civil-rights turmoil; in undermining Federal meritocracy, he reinforced stereotypes and anger in both black and white Americans.
CHICAGO RAILROAD FAIR, 1948
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