There is a nice article right now in Rolling Stone on a historic and heroic struggle that is happening just a few miles up the road from me. A while back, a big corporation came to a tiny little community and said, “we’re going to dump all our pollution here.” A lot of the good country folks who live there said “No, please.” The giant corporation said. “Shut up. We’re a corporation. We have human rights and we’ll do as we please!”
So the people went to the state and the Department of Environmental Protection agency said, “What we protect is the rights of corporations to use the environment as they see fit.” And so the people said, “Okay, we’ll do it ourselves.” So the corporations sued them and, to add insult to injury, the government sued them and still this group of renegade rural folks is standing strong, like real Americans, conscientious, committed, and courageous. The people of Grant Township Pennsylvania, and the East Run Hellbenders Society should have songs written and movies made about them. And maybe they will, in the end.
In Oregon, a man was recently arrested for paying a hooker with money from a stolen Girl Scouts fundraising jar in his pet store, then tipping the industrious Professional Intimacy Facilitator with a exotic primate. Because nothing says “lets do it again sometime” like a creepy little exotic mammal.If I were the girl, I would have held out for some contraband Thin Mints.
I know, you’ve missed me–I’ve been buried in real-world work again–but I’m swimming towards the surface. In the meantime, here’s a transcript, with some additions, from a Facebook post that’s making the rounds–a story too fascinating, exciting, and (sadly) unsurprising to not share with you.
Do you know who this is a photo of? Chances are you don’t, but don’t feel bad because probably not one American in one million does, and that is a National tragedy. His name is Eugene Jacques Bullard, and he is the first African-American fighter pilot in history. But he is also much more then that: He’s also a national hero, and his story is so incredible that I bet if you wrote a movie script based on it Hollywood would reject it as being too far-fetched.
Bullard was an expat living in France, and when World War 1 broke out he joined the French Infantry. He was seriously wounded, and France awarded him the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire. In 1916 he joined the French air service and he first trained as a gunner but later he trained as a pilot. When American pilots volunteered to help France and formed the famous Lafayette Escadrille, he asked to join but by the time he became a qualified pilot they were no longer accepting new recruits, so he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps instead. He served with French flying units and he completed 20 combat missions.
When the United States finally joined the war, Bullard was the only member of the Escadrille or the French Flying Corps who was NOT invited to join the US Air Service. The reason? At that time the Air Service only accepted white men.
Now here is the part that almost sounds like a sequel to ‘Casablanca’: After WWI Bullard became a jazz musician in Paris and he eventually owned a nightclub called ‘L’Escadrille’. When the Germans invaded France and conquered it in WW2, his Club, and Bullard, became hugely popular with German officers, but what they DIDN’T know was that Bullard, who spoke fluent German, was actually working for the Free French as a spy. He eventually joined a French infantry unit, but he was badly wounded and had to leave the service.
By the end of the war, Bullard had become a national hero in France, but he later moved back to the U.S. where he was of course completely unknown. Practically no one in the United States was aware of it when, in 1959, the French government named him a national Chevalier, or Knight.
In 1960, the President of France, Charles DeGaulle, paid a state visit to the United States and when he arrived he said that one of the first things he wanted to do was to meet Bullard. That sent the White House staff scrambling because most of them, of course, had never even heard of him. They finally located him in New York City, and DeGaulle traveled there to meet him personally. At the time, Eugene Bullard was working as … An elevator operator.
Not long after Eugene Bullard met with the President of France, he passed away, and today very, very few Americans, and especially African-Americans, even know who he is. But, now YOU do, don’t you? And I hope you’ll be able to find opportunities to tell other people about this great American hero that probably only 1 American in 1 Million has ever heard of.
Postscript: It’s worth noting that I also discovered this photo of Bullard being beaten by police in the famous anti-black, anti-communist, anti-Semitic Peekskill Riots of 1949. God bless America–the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The italicized text above arrived in my hands attributed to someone named Terry Dunn, via Facebook. I’m unsure of its provenance.
A more complete biography of Corporal Bullard appears here. His wikipedia page is here. (link repaired)
And there is even a book. It is amazing how much there is that we don’t know.
Have you been to Driggs, Idaho? If you have, then you’ll know this is pretty much run of the mill stuff. I pinched these from my friend Teresa, who lives there. The name of guy on the skis is Jesse Cooke, and right now he’s my hero. These pics will go viral momentarily…
Playing around with a new camera…we caught the sound check (lightning bolt guitar strap) in the afternoon before the actual show at 7:30. It threatened rain all evening, dark clouds swirling around, but we only got a few sprinkles just before Neko, Kelly, and the boys took the stage. Perfect evening despite the douchebag behind us flirting pathetically with his date, shouting in my ear so she could hear you over the music–dude, talking for 90 minutes about your convention in Atlanta–at the Peach Tree Center, you think, or is it Peach Tree Plaza–it’s something Peach Tree–so try being a little respectful and shut the hell up. (I’m the big bearded guy who turned around and gave you the death glare during “Hold On, Hold On.” Come on, man–Neko and Kelly Hogan have the best stage repartee I’ve ever experienced–I know it was a free show, but just shut up and listen.
“Mobula rays aka flying rays are also known as the devil fish of the ocean. They are similar in appearance to manta rays and they fall under the family of eagle rays. They can attain a disc width of up to 5.2m (17 ft). They can weight over a ton and are known as the second largest Manta species in size. But other than this, not much is known about them. That is why this video is extra special.
NatGeo managed to capture this beautiful event where a record-breaking school of mobula rays arrived off the coast of Baja. Thousands of mobula rays are gathered in the ocean and it is really mind-blowing to see them fly….”