“American Hero: Tuskegee Airman visits Congdon school”
…read the title of the article appearing in the Duluth News Tribune. Among other local schools, my father spoke to students at Congdon Park Elementary School in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2001. 475 kids attended the assembly in the school gym which helped make civil rights history come alive. Students spent a week studying the Tuskegee Airmen in preparation for my father’s visit. The kids, especially the littlest ones, could not understand the full implications of the stories told about segregation and racism. My father was glad of that. He believes children can make the future. “If the children learn not to tolerate intolerance, and if their parents don’t teach them intolerance, then they will grow up OK.” “He really is living history for the kids,” said PTA co-president Nancy Choquette, who helped bring my father to the school. “This is a great opportunity for them.” Students in kindergarten through fifth grade spent a week studying the Tuskegee Airmen in preparation for his visit.
On January 16, 2001, my father received the following thank you letter:
Dear Mr. Gomer, Thank you so very much for being our featured speaker on martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Your presence and sharing of experience was undoubtedly memorable for our students. You represent true history making! In the beginning of your presentation you said, “Sometimes you have to look back to see where you’re going.” History is a great teacher for us all. The students certainly learned a great deal from you. Hearing someone actually tell of the struggle for civil rights and offer a personal account is something our students will remember
I thought the Duluth News Tribune article about you identified some terrific learning on the part of Congdon Park students. It got the student thinking of what life would have been like and how they might have been different.
Our students are learning the importance of respect, tolerance, diversity and justice. Thank you for helping to further this valuable lesson.
Sincerely, Nancy E. Choquette
North Life Magazine – The Senior Report for Older People and their Families
My father was featured in this February 2000 article, “Joe Gomer – American” by Larry Fortner. The article recounted his history in the armed services as a Tuskegee Airmen, and U.S. Forestry Service. Many references were taken from my web site for this article.
“The Legacy of African-American Leadership” – Oahu, Hawaii
On February 21, 1999 the entire family flew to the island of Oahu, and later traveled to the big island for a week. The extended trip was a 50th wedding anniversary gift for my parents.
My father spoke to the 25th Infantry Division (Light)at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu, about his life as a Tuskegee Airman for “The Legacy of African-American Leadership”; a Black History Month celebration. The second honored guest was Buffalo Soldier, Dr. William Waddell who resides in Hawaii. This event was arranged by Major Mechelle Hale, and attended by base personnel and people from the community. (Top Photo: Dr. Waddell & J. Gomer)
The event went wonderfully and was the first time that the whole family gathered to hear my father speak. Afterwards, my father autographed programs and various memorabilia. Another Tuskegee Airmen who served in the 302nd Fighter Squadron, and who also resides in Hawaii, Romaine Goldsborough, attended the event. He and my father got to spend some time together. The day prior, my father spoke at a luncheon with the Aviation Brigade’s Soldiers. (Bottom Photo: J. Gomer , R. Goldsborough, Maj. Hale)
My mother gave a presentation at Colonel Kennon’s home regarding her life married to a “man in the military”. My sister and I enjoyed it immensely, as did my mother. It was interesting how things have changed, particularly etiquette, and the subtle and sometimes not so subtle racism that took place outside the military.
Iowa Falls Times-Citizen Newspaper – Weekend Section
On September 2, 1998, I was contacted by a reporter from the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen who read with great interest, my father’s biography on my web site, and was surprised to learn that he was born and raised in Iowa Falls, Iowa. He wrote a story on my father which appeared in the Times-Citizen. As a former Iowa Falls resident, he recalled his part in history with several photos including one of our extended family. A friend my father has not seen since college, saw the article and contacted him to catch up on old times. The article from my web site was also included in the Defense Language Institute/English Language Center’s Air Force book in the American Military English Course, along with photographs of my father.
Confederate Air Force Gathering
My Father attended a fundraising event at the Polar Aircraft Museum in Blaine,MN. The Confederate Airforce is dedicated to raising funds for the restoration of an old C-Model P-51 aircraft, better known as the Red Tail Project. They are raising money to rebuild “Skipper’s Darling”, and have a 1/6th size model in wood that can be shipped and shown around the country. The State of Minnesota is providing a large matching grant. If you wish to help raise needed funds, call Dick Williams at 612-472-3219.
All of the Tuskegee Airmen autographed a print of a P51 fighter plane which is available for purchase, and received a GI-JOE Classic Collection “Tuskegee” plaque in recognition of their achievements from the artist and his wife.
Dubuque Welcomes Tuskegee Airmen
In February my Father, along with three other Tuskegee Airmen, went to Dubuque, Iowa. He was greeted at the Dubuque Regional Airport by students holding a banner that read “Dubuque Welcomes the Tuskegee Airmen”. They participated in a weekend of community activities planned and financed by Central High School students in the American history class of John Adelmann, the English class of Tim Ebeling and the art class of Shirley Deppe. The highlight of the event was an academic seminar about the Tuskegee Airmen taught by the students presenting what they learned about the black airmen. John Adelmann, a military history buff, decided to have his students study the groundbreaking African American unit. The project grew into a community effort that raised $5,000 to bring the four airmen to Dubuque and to help restore one of the last remaining examples of the P-51 Mustang fighter, which the pilots flew. The semester-long project will culminate in a 230-page book, “The Tuskegee Airmen: Victory at Home and Abroad”. The airmen became role models for the students involved in the project. In a newspaper feature article that appeared in the Register’s Iowa City Bureau, my Father said, “It’s nice to be remembered.”
Veteran’s Memorial Hall Benefit Dinner
On Veterans Day, November 11, 1997, my father was an honoree and speaker for this event honoring veterans, their families and the home front that supported U.S. war efforts. The event took place in the Great Hall of the Depot in Duluth, MN. Contributions supported the establishment of the St. Louis County’s Veterans Memorial Hall.
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Copyright – November 1997 – 2011.
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