THE SILVER LINING To Your Life & Health
T he E mbodiment of P erseverance Remembering Charles Young on Veterans Day
American officer in the United States, having achieved several military and nonmilitary honors. The road from slavery to military heroism was fraught with difficulty and hardship of every kind, but Col. Young persevered through it to the end. Col. Young was accepted to West Point Military Academy in 1884 and graduated in 1889 as a second lieutenent, the third ever African American to do so. Throughout his time at West Point, Col. Young endured unending discrimination and racism, but he never quit. During his 28-year military career, Col. Young served mostly with black troops. He started with the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, which, along with the 10th, was nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.” At different points in time, Col. Young was also a national park supervisor, a professor of military science, and a military attache to foreign nations. He rose quickly through the ranks, and, after leading the 10th U.S. Cavalry on a successful expedition into Mexico, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Col. Young might have been promoted to brigadier general if the racist and bigoted sensibilities of the time didn’t temporarily prevail. Many white officers didn’t want to serve under a black commander, and some complained to the War Department to have Col. Young forcibly retired from active duty. The War Department heeded their backward complaints, and they removed Col. Young from active duty due to his “high blood pressure.”
Never one to give up without a fight, Col. Young rode on horseback all the way from Wilberforce, Ohio, where he lived at the time, to Washington, D.C., to prove his physical fitness. War Department officials reinstated him as an active duty colonel shortly after that. Col. Young died from illness while serving as a military attache in Liberia in 1922, and he was later buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. It’s hard to put such an incredible life in so few words, but I want to do my best to show how Col. Charles Young embodies perseverance. One of the initiation rituals at Omega Psi Phi ends with new members wearing gold boots, to symbolize the dust and sediment that Col. Charles Young picked up on his boots on his horse ride to Washington. It’s meant to show how the new members have persevered through the initiation process. Omega Psi Phi has four cardinal principles that all members must live by: Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift. I hold all four in high regard, but perseverance is a trait I have taken to heart and earned a lot of success from practicing. Because of this, I have immense respect for Col. Charles Young and everything he stands for. He is absolutely someone worth remembering on Veterans Day.
Many people have someone they celebrate on Veterans Day. It might be a mother or a father, a son or daughter, a grandparent, or even a close friend who has served in the armed forces. On Veterans Day, I celebrate the life of Col. Charles Young. Many of you might not be familiar with who he is, but I think his life is one worth remembering, and someone we can all look to as an example for perseverance. In 2008, I crossed the burning sands of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., which is the first African American fraternity to be founded on a historically black college or university in the United States. Omega Psi Phi was founded Nov. 17, 1911 at 7:11 p.m. on the campus of Howard University in Washington D.C. Although he was never formally initiated into the fraternity before his death in 1922, Col. Charles Young became the second-ever honorary member of Omega Psi Phi because he lived a life so closely associated with OPP’s values. One of the founders of the NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois, said Col. Charles Young’s life “was a triumph of tragedy,” and I don’t think anyone could have said better if they wanted to. Col. Charles Young was born into slavery in Mays Lick, Kentucky in 1864. By the end of his life, he was the highest-ranking African
–Duane Hamilton 1 770-744-1855
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