Letter to the Editor | Military service led to better life

Letter to the Editor | Military service led to better life

The military fertilized the soil in which the seeds of my ambitions grew.

When I graduated from high school, my family had no money for me to attend college, although I had the ambition to do so. In spite of growing up in Tennessee under the separate-but-equal doctrine laid out in the 1986 decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson, the whites for whom the members of my family worked allowed me to come to work with them (when school was out) and play with their children.

Mama Anna, my father's mother, could not read nor write. My mother's father was white (although she was a Negro woman's daughter), and he visited us often and allowed me to call him "Papa Sam."

In spite of living in poverty and under Plessy vs. Ferguson, I was encouraged by my family and the whites for whom they worked to try to "be somebody."

World War II provided the opportunity to help myself. When the white lady came recruiting, Mama let me enlist.

The military provided me the opportunity to "expand my intellectual horizons." When discharged, I was only a corporal, but the G.I. Bill of Rights to help veterans advance their education was available to me.

I am now a retired college professor with a bachelor's degree and a double master's from the University of Illinois.