I grew up in Southern California in the ’50s, the son of an immigrant from post WWII Denmark. My dad was very proud of his hard-earned citizenship, but never to the point of hubris.
My dad worked for one of the many aircraft manufacturers as a sheet-metal mechanic. His lead man was somewhat of an “Archie Bunker” type (a flamer of the first magnitude).
When the civil rights movement was in its infancy my dad would frequently come home complaining of the insensitivity of his boss to “people of color.” When the governor of Arkansas did his historical little dance, my dad got fed up, spending half a week’s pay calling his U.S. Congressman and two U.S. Senators — person-to-person, long distance in D.C. He also quit the job he had had for 10 years, the job that paid our rent and put food on the table, because of the racist rantings of his boss-man.
His reasoning was something like: “I sacrificed a lot to come to the one country on the planet that offers hope. I fought in a war to free all people from the tyranny of small minds. I’ll be damned if I’ll allow another small mind to control any aspect of my life.”
My dad did not find another job for about 18 months. Those months were rough for us both, but we made it.
For his unwavering belief in life, liberty and justice for all and the courage of his convictions I always admired my old man, in spite of his flaws. He died a hard and lonely death in a flop house in San Francisco 10 years later, but, in my humble opinion, he died a knight is shining armor.
— John Fredricks, Maj. USAF (ret.), Virginia
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