Celebrating Our Veterans

M.E. Hart and Congressional Gold Medal Native Veteran Jimmy HargroveRetired Master Gunnery Sergeant Jimmy Hargrove was one of the first African Americans to serve in the US Marine Corps.

I had the honor of meeting and talking with him recently in Virginia Beach at an event honoring both Native American History Month and Veterans Day.

In his eighties, Mr. Hargrove still has a vibrant, engaging, fighting spirit. He was celebrating his service and his Native American Heritage. His father was Cherokee. As sacred drums were played, he led an honor circle for Veterans and their families.

I attended the event to honor my Native American Ancestors, after learning a few years ago that my DNA is 20% Native American. My family doesn’t have exact information on the specific tribes, though oral history says Cherokee and possibly Seminole. I joined the honor walk to celebrate the four generations of military service by members of my family.

Jimmy – as he asked me to call him – is a brilliant storyteller. He had me spellbound talking about his surprise at arriving for his basic training in 1948 to discover that the Marines were segregated. As he said, “I had to fight two wars, segregation and the enemy.”

He spoke of his commitment to become a Marine no matter what it took. So he put up with whatever he had to throughout his 3o years of military service. Including deployments in Korea and Vietnam.

He and his fellow Marines serving at Montford Point, North Carolina were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, the Highest Civilian Honor, in June of 2012.

It was my honor, privilege, and good fortune to have had a chance to meet and talk with this American Hero. What a great way to celebrate Veterans Day! Learn more about Jimmy Hargrove here.

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