Reps. Blunt Rochester, Holmes Norton Celebrate President Biden’s Message on Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) join in celebrating a message from President Joseph Biden recognizing Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day on March 28.

In February 2023, in partnership with the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated (ECCTAI) and the national Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated (TAI), Blunt Rochester and Holmes Norton led a group of members requesting President Biden formally recognize Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day on the fourth Thursday in March.

In a successful effort, the president has recognized March 28, 2024, as Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day. “I am so proud to join my colleague, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, in celebrating Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day and this message by President Biden,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “When we called on the president to recognize this day last year, we did so in honor of the heroic sacrifices made by these men and women in our country’s hour of need, as well as their trailblazing legacy for black members of our military and black aviators at large. We are so grateful to the Tuskegee Airmen for their perseverance and unparalleled success. This is a terrific day for the state of Delaware, which is home to a rich history and lineage of Tuskegee Airmen. I look forward to marking this day each year going forward.”

"As an elite corps of African American pilots and crew, as well as others, who fought in World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen deserve this recognition from President Biden," Holmes Norton said. "Thank you, President Biden, for your acknowledgement. It will be deeply meaningful to the veterans, their family members, and the succeeding generations of black service members who surely deserve our thanks. Thank you to Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester for her partnership in the effort to bring this group of brave Black servicemen and women the recognition they deserve."

Jerry Burton, president of TAI, and Jerome Hodge, president of ECCTAI, also issued a joint statement about the presidential salute.
“President Biden’s recognition of Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day reaffirms the enduring legacy of these trailblazers and their contributions to the military and society,” the statement said. “This acknowledgment not only celebrates the airmen’s historic achievements, but also motivates us to continue inspiring future generations to soar beyond any limits imposed by prejudice or discrimination."

The Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen (DOTAs) were a group of air crew and support personnel associated with the segregated flying units of the U.S. Army Air Forces who fought in World War II. As the black flying units in the U.S. Army, their many successes paved the way for the desegregation of the U.S. military. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen runs through six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that participated in a trailblazing pilot training program which opened access to Black Americans by the Civilian Pilot Training Act in 1939. The achievements of these pilots laid the critical groundwork for the legendary military service that would begin just two years later.

The month of March holds significance for the Tuskegee Airmen: The first Tuskegee Airmen cadets received their wings in March. The first maintenance crew began training at Chanute Field, Illinois, in March. The first Pursuit Squadron, the 99th, was activated that month; and President George W. Bush presented the airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal in March. A wreath-laying ceremony for deceased members of the Tuskegee Airmen, known as “Lonely Eagles,” is held on the commemoration day at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Text of the message can be found here or below.

March 28, 2024


I send my warmest greetings to all those celebrating National Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day-a time to honor the story, service, and sacrifice of the Black pilots, bombardiers, navigators, mechanics, instructors, and crewmembers who changed the course of history.


It's a story that continues to inspire us today. Daring and determined, the Tuskegee Airmen blazed a new path-becoming our Nation's first Black military pilots. They flew and supported over 15,000 sorties in battle and destroyed over 100 enemy aircraft. They defended the Allies and became one of the most decorated fighter groups during World War II. Time and again, they risked their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, stepping up to fly some of our country's most dangerous and critical missions.


But as these patriots fought the forces of fascism abroad, they continued to face enduring discrimination at home: signs on restaurants that read "whites only"; seats on buses that were off-limits; and schools, streets, shops, and military units divided by segregation. And even after the Tuskegee Airmen helped lay the groundwork for President Truman's Executive Order ending the unconscionable racial segregation of our Armed Forces, Black troops continued to confront intense inequality, racism, and oppression from those whose very freedom they defended.


Like the generations of brave Black Service members before them, the Tuskegee Airmen never stopped believing in the founding vision of our Nation: the vision for a more perfect Union, one where all women and men are created equal. We are the only Nation in the world built on this idea. We haven't always lived up to it, but we've never walked away from it either. And we've never ever walked away from our troops, who dare all and give all for our Nation.


As Commander in Chief, I am committed to keeping this sacred promise – including ensuring all Service members and veterans of color are treated with equal dignity and respect. We're working to address racial bias, strengthen equal opportunity, reform the military justice system, and ensure the full diversity of our Armed Forces is reflected at every level. And we will remain unwavering in our efforts to ensure that all women and men who wear the uniform can reach their full potential and have their contributions valued.


Today – as we honor the courageous "Red Tails" who defended our democracy against the forces of darkness-we remember their immense service and sacrifice. And together, we recommit to the future they fought for: one of greater security, equality, and opportunity for all.


President Joe Biden



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