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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Rusty Knife

 As a young girl of seven I recall my father telling my twin brother and me stories of being in World War II. One day he showed us a rusty knife and our eyes widened in fear. So this what being a soldier meant, I thought: having weapons like knives and guns. Before some of you readers question my father's reasoning in displaying the knife, you have to consider the times. Kids during these times played "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers". It was nothing for a ten year old male to have a BB gun or a slingshot.

Children were seen and not heard and particularly Southern, African American fathers, instructed and demonstrated. Lessons and history were constantly discussed and we learned about hard times during the Great Depression and how my father's family survived. We also visited poor neighborhoods in Hartford, Ct's North End during the seventies. These excursions were for us to be grateful for what we had.

I discovered forty years later that the knife that my father showed us was a weapon seized from a Japanese soldier. The government, according to a Montford Point Marine historian, did not want it known that the Japanese surrendered to Black soldiers. Furthermore, during WWII Japanese Prisoners of War received better treatment than the Black African soldiers.

                                                                                  Captured Japanese 

And the knife that shocked me as a little girl in pigtails? It was stolen during a a break in at my father's Florida home.Many items donated from MPMs are displayed in the Montford Point Marine Museum  located in North Carolina.

I think the rusty knife, lectures and encyclopedias led to my interest in history. If you wanted information on a subject you would go to your set of encyclopedias or library back then. But keep in mind Montford Point Marines would not be included....

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