By: F. Kojo Kyeremeh
The Former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell once said during a speech at Georgetown University in 2017, that “America is a nation of immigrants, and a nation of diversity.” He went on to say that “although we have trouble with diversity, we are a vibrant economy because of immigration.”
It has often been said that the United States Armed Forces are a reflection of America; this cannot be further from the truth. Having served alongside sundry immigrants who profess their love and dedication to America like all native-born Americans, I am convinced that we serve this nation not because we are forced to or that someone dangles millions of dollars in our faces. Rather, as part of the less than one percent of America’s all-volunteer force, we serve because we equally feel a sense of duty and responsibility to protect the freedoms and sovereignty of the United States; an eclectic shining city on a hill where generations of immigrants not only founded, but has sustained until this day.
Seen around the world as the preeminent fighting force, the United States Military is not the fine force it is simply because of its powerful arsenal. It is the quality and diversity of the men and women of the US Armed Forces that makes our military stand out wherever we go. Virtually every possible ethnic and religious group is represented in our ranks.
The presence of people of all races in our military is not about social justice or fulfilling some arbitrary quota, if that was the goal decades past, that is no longer the case. Our very presence is what makes the United States military the unique fighting force that it is. I will not belabor the great stories of units, made up of people of color such as the celebrated Native American Code Talkers and the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II; and the 54th Regiment out of Massachusetts, during the Civil War.
As the first and only member of my family to serve, I have experienced the beautiful tapestry of men and women from different cultures, equally trained to fight under the banner of the Red, White and Blue. We took an oath to serve the United States and defend her against all enemies foreign and domestic, even at the peril of our lives. We have gone to faraway lands, often leaving our families with tears in their eyes, wondering if we shall ever return into their arms again.
I have personally relied on comrades from many African countries, Haiti, as well as South America, who like me, call themselves Americans whether through birth or naturalization.
We all bear the scars of Americas wars and for that, we would forever hold a piece of America in our hearts. We have served alongside other nations, but they don’t look like the United States Military, we are different and proud of it.
General Colin Powell once again said, “you don’t get authority from above, you get authority from the people whose lives you control. You can’t be a good leader if your followers don’t believe in you. If you create that bond of trust, they’ll do anything you ask them.”
The question on many of our minds, is whether this bond of trust has dissipated under this administration?
No one would put their life on the line for a battle body that does not have their backs; or a leader that has no respect for them simply because of the color of their skin or ethnicity.
The Civil Rights Act 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin for this very reason. The truth is, immigrant Soldiers have immigrant families, it is a reality we cannot dissect ourselves from.
Private Emmanuel Mensah, a young immigrant Soldier, originally from my native Ghana, laid down his life on December 28th, 2017, to save his neighbors lives in the Bronx New York fire. If he takes his pledge to protect and defend this nation seriously enough to the detriment of his life, then I certainly hope that the Commander-In-Chief, at whose pleasure he served, would have an even greater duty to not only uphold the Constitution of the United States, but to treat all people of this nation, immigrants alike, with dignity and respect.
Source: The Ghanaian American Journal (GAJ)
(The author is the Founder/Editor of the Ghanaian American Journal; and a member of the Army National Guard)