Yesterday (June 6), people around the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, including lifting up the more than 2.5 million Black men who registered for the World War II draft, all while “they experienced discrimination and segregation.” At a ceremony in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Black soldiers who were stationed in Abergavenny, Aberystwyth, Barry, Cardiff, Pembroke, Pontypool and Swansea were honored with a commemorative plaque, the BBC reports.
The recognition could not have happened soon enough, considering the youngest vets who survived D-Day on June 6, 1944 (nearly 4,500 servicemen didn’t), are in their mid-90s, according to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.
As for the Black vets remembered in Wales, the plaque’s insignia reads that the honor is “in memory of WWII [Black] personnel stationed in Pembrokeshire and South Wales who took part in the D-Day campaign.”
“I remember that the [Black] soldiers were lovely people,” 92-year-old John Brock, president of the Carew Control Tower Association, told the BBC. “Without their help we wouldn’t have won the war.”
In addition to members of diversity countil Windrush Cymru Elders, Texas-based Swansea University exchange student April Hill was also in attendance. Hill, who is researching her family’s history in Wales, told the BBC the significance of the commemoration is magnified because of the racism that Black soldiers endured in their own country.
“It’s so important that this ceremony recognizes the efforts of the [Black] soldiers—they were exposed to hatred and hostility in the U.S.,” Hill told the BBC. “They made such a huge sacrifice, laying down their lives for a country which didn’t recognize their rights as human beings.”
In related news, CNN saluted a vet much closer to home yesterday: 97-year-old Pittsburg-resident Henry Parham, who is believed to be the last surviving Black combat vet from D-Day. Parham was part of the all-Black 120th Barrage Balloon Battalion. Watch his interview:
American Hero: Henry Parham, believed to be the the last surviving African American D-Day combat veteran, reflects on what it took to survive both bullets and discrimination. @GaryTuchmanCNN reports https://t.co/yAwV2wyjMv pic.twitter.com/mvBntKFtAz
— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2019