Larry Hamilton: It’s time to understand before becoming understood


How ironic is it that nearly three decades ago I began a commentary that referenced a mindset of some local residents which suggested a need to prioritize, stand down, and salute the heroism of a William H. Pitsenbarger who was more entitled to be “finally getting due recognition.”

Then as now, the issue of recognition and what I call “ownership identity” is continuing to play out before the Piqua City Commission and a more elevated populist dialogue via the social media forums that aren’t quite as civil as the past but now embrace the same “monochromatic” elements but only now with the additional fervor of the politics of rage within the MAGA-lands of the interior heart of Flyover USA.

Let me say up front that I attended the Piqua National Premiere and I felt that “Piqua Pride” and the patriotic emotionalism of tearing up while later viewing “The Last Full Measure”. Obviously Hollywood has taken a few literary liberties in developing this military based humanistic heroic narrative but one truth that must be acknowledged is not only the trauma of the battlefield experience but the enduring lack of recognition imposed upon these soldiers returning home from the jungles of Vietnam in another period of the politics of division from the Civil Rights era and the protest movements in opposition to our military involvement in Southeast Asia. One of the Hollywood speakers at the premiere captured my attention in his effort to culturally identify with or ingratiate himself as being like unto the crowd that had gathered for the occasion by referencing that he too had been born in or come from a “flyover state.” I wondered if I alone was the only one that picked up on that, see

I urge every young adult and especially elder Piquads to see the R-rated movie! Like the movie industry I too am entitled to make a few literary adaptations and analogies in fashioning my commentary geared to the start of Black History Month. As a teacher of Black History at Piqua High School for thirty years, I observe and share that historical heritage 24/7 and 365, much to the annoyance of more than a few friends and neighbors. But viewing the film opened another opportunity to develop a more complete picture of ‘freedom’s struggle’ and the more than three decades of persistent pursuit (like the filmmakers) in fashioning my own story of an inclusive historical legacy worthy of honoring the ancestral “Mud Soldiers” who had long been under fire and made the ultimate sacrifice in their last full measure for dignity, respect, honor and recognition. Remember, I wrote long ago that the issue is not a qualitative comparison of the sacrifices of or the contributions of William H. Pitsenbarger … to some of my “Mud Soldiers” drawn from the ranks of the enslaved like those of the ancestors of the Randolph Freedmen who are still truly traumatized by the travails of rejection, denial and terrorism experienced in the narratives from flyover territories of yesteryears.

Many of these people exhibit similar characteristics in proclaiming to just wanting to be left alone but at the same time having to experience the flash backs of evil historical atrocities rendering them as edgy, antagonistic, antisocial, and walking around with a chip on their shoulder or exhibiting the crazy uncle mentality. Mud soldiers and people of color manifest as well as mask some symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress/Slave Syndrome that isn’t being examined and diagnosed and thereby remains untreated in denying the potential for healing and becoming fully functioning contributors to “American Exceptionalism” rather than continuing to be plagued with transplanting the same messed up DNA on a cyclical basis from one generation to the next.

The systemic failure in miseducation and the inability to recognize their historical greatness and leadership in contributing to the advancement of World Civilization and the lack of value, honor and dignity due ourchildren of color is likely to diminish the potential for a prosperous inclusive future. An ongoing unwillingness to understand and embrace Doing the right thing by the white rural, conservative, Christian heartland of flyover America will only hinder and limit the creativity and industriousness of ALL Americans to prosper and excel inclusively rather than being exclusively subjected to a Eurocentric worldview.

Dr. Martin Luther King stated the time is always right to do what is right. My emphasis and what should be the focus of flyover America is the right concept (Recognizing Individual Greatness in Historical Testament) that creates a more equitable and socially just standard for assigning “ownership identity” to the naming of publicly owned or tax payer’s property. I salute the U.S. Navy’s belated effort in honoring the heroism of Dorie Miller as an example of the application of Doing the right thing.

By Larry Hamilton

Guest columnist

Larry Hamilton is a retired Piqua High School teacher and a resident of Piqua.

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