Images of America: Black Lives Matter

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Images of America

Dorrie Miller Above and Beyond the Call of Duty smallTHIS SUMMER, as millions of us set out to explore America, we’re inviting you to think about images of our country that have inspired men and women over many years.

Images of America is one of the Free Resources used by groups nationwide to discuss United America. If you click on that book link, you’ll find the full Photo Gallery with more than 100 famous images like the 5 we’ll look at in depth this week in OurValues. We’ve carefully chosen images that can be freely reposted, printed and shared for discussion. Please, use this week’s OurValues series as a convenient introduction to help get friends talking about United America and the 10 values that really do unite nearly all of us in this nation.

OK, let’s get started!
Today’s question: Who’s that man in the picture?

More than half a century before the current “Black Lives Matter” campaign for racial justice, Dorie Miller embodied a closely related idea in a startling new way for millions of Americans who found themselves in the midst of World War II. At the time, most Americans were barely aware that African Americans were part of our armed forces—let alone risking their lives with such heroic distinction.

Doris Miller, born in 1919, is far better known by his nickname Dorie. He was a cook on the battleship West Virginia at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He had just finished serving breakfast when the first of nine Japanese torpedoes hit his ship. Like other crew members, when the attack began, Miller raced to his assigned battle station: an anti-aircraft battery that he discovered had already been destroyed.

Everyone aboard was in shock from the extent of the carnage the ship and the crew already had suffered. A commander spotted Miller and told him to help with the ship’s captain, who was so gravely wounded that he would not survive the day. Miller stood 6-foot-3 and was able to move the skipper to a more sheltered spot, where the captain tried to continue giving orders.

Then, Miller was assigned to a different set of anti-aircraft guns. Despite problems with that equipment, Miller soon was firing the big .50-caliber machine guns skyward. Later, Miller helped move and evacuate wounded survivors, saving many men who otherwise would have perished in the smoke, fire and rising sea water as the fatally damaged ship sank.

Doris Miller better known as Dorie Miller with his Navy Cross

“Dorie” Miller with his Navy Cross.

Miller was the first African American to receive the Navy Cross. He was celebrated coast to coast as an iconic figure in the nationwide campaign to mobilize all Americans in the war effort.

In particular, the poster designed by David Stone Martin (“Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”) was proudly hung in African American communities. A Chicago native, Martin went on to produce many illustrations and paintings, some of which hang today in major art museums and the Smithsonian. Before his death in 1992, Martin was famous for designing album covers featuring Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte and many more artists.

While Dorie Miller’s memory lives on to this day—he did not survive World War II. In 1943, he was killed in action when the USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine.

Talk about these images with friends!

The United America photo gallery Images of America was developed so you can freely share these inspiring images with friends. Feel free also to print out this week’s five-part series—or repost the columns—to get friends talking. This method has been used successfully with groups nationwide to spark spirited and constructive discussions about what unites us as Americans. Then, to fully understand the 10 core values, get the book United America. So, come on! Start your own discussion …

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