FIRST REPORT, 11:44 AM: Just under way at Disabled American Veterans Chapter 23 (4847 Delridge Way SW), an all-day event that all are welcome to drop in on, however much or little time you have: The chapter is hosting its first Black Veterans Appreciation/Celebration event. Above, after chapter Commander Ron Bryant and Adjutant Kameko Thomas welcomed attendees, they presented an award to Frankie Manning, a U.S. Army veteran who is former Chief of Nursing at the regional VA hospital. Two U.S. House members are present too – Rep. Suzan DelBene and Rep. Adam Smith. Schedule information for the rest of the day is in our preview. We’ll add video and more photos later.
ADDED SATURDAY NIGHT: Among those introduced as the event began, the veteran described as the Pacific Northwest’s last surviving Buffalo Soldier, Clyde Robinson:
Adjutant Thomas explained that the inspiration for the event was the story of another Black World War II soldier, Sgt. Isaac Woodard, told in the DAV’s magazine under the headline “Blind Justice”:
The injustice suffered by Sgt. Woodward happened after his honorable discharge from the Army, when police beat and blinded him. Thomas said she realized there are so many stories people don’t know about, they decided to create this event to help rectify that – in honor of all the Black veterans “who go unseen, unheard, unappreciated.” Her explanation is part of this clip, which also includes Commander Bryant’s welcome and Rep. Smith’s remarks:
Rep. Smith called the event “incredibly important” and expressed his gratitude for the veterans’ service. Rep DelBene also offered a few words of appreciation; she’s part of this next video clip, which begins with the award presentation for Frankie Manning:
Receiving the first Distinguished Veteran Award bequeathed by Chapter 23, Manning was lauded for her four-plus decades of service at VA hospitals including the one here, and her 22 years serving in the Army. Her career included many other achievements – including missionary work in Haiti and founding the Wichita Black Nurses Association.
She said she had been honored over the years to hear so many veterans’ stories. “No day is a bad day when you can care for a veteran,” she said. The regional VA health-care director Michael Tadych called her legendary.
Other distinguished guests included the state DAV commander Jeff Bele, who had words of praise for Chapter 23 as a “well-run chapter,” saying he was “overwhelmed and honored” to be part of the event.