From New York Daily News
William Garfield Dabney, a 20-year-old enlistee, landed on the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago Saturday. Tethered to his waist was a bomb-armed helium balloon, meant to bring down a German dive bomber. George Davidson, then 22, ferried messages between American commanders under the cover of night, dodging enemy fire with nothing but his wits to guide him. Both men, members of the same all-black unit, survived the bloody D-Day landings that launched the Allied liberation of France. But because they were black, they disappeared into oblivion – a historic wrong that at last is being rectified. Mr. Dabney today will be among 50 U.S. veterans awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration, in Paris. The vets will return to Normandy tomorrow for the official D-Day ceremony with U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“The whole group should have been decorated,” Bill Davidson, of Waynesburg, Pa., said of his father, who died in 2002. “The contribution of blacks has never been acknowledged.”
Few of the 900,000 African-American vets who fought in World War II received medals. Photos of black soldiers were long conspicuously missing from commemorating major World War II battlefields. To Mr. Dabney, who grew up in small-town Altavista, Va., the exclusion was no surprise – but it still hurt. “It makes you feel bad, when you don’t get the recognition like the white soldiers, that they threw your name in the garbage,” he said.