SEWICKLEY (KDKA) — It was a day that some World War II veterans thought they would never live to see: the dedication and unveiling of Tuskegee Airmen’s Memorial of Greater Pittsburgh.
The monument honors the nation’s first African American aviators who served in the military.
“The city of Sewickley, the city of Pittsburgh, the whole state and the country is seeing something that is utterly totally truthful and I’m proud to be a part of it,” James Cotten said.
Cotten is one the more than 100 western Pennsylvania residents who became Tuskegee Airmen.
“It made the world a better place to be because it used the talents of everybody instead of a select racial group,” Cotten said.
During the war, the Tuskegee Airmen became one of the most decorated squadrons, flying in more than 1,500 combat missions.
Three-hundred-fifty airmen and their widows received congressional medals
“We came to serve our country we came to prove that black Americans can and will serve their country equally as well as any other Americans,” Cotten said.
But in serving their country they were subjected to Jim Crow laws’ racial segregation within the military and legal and social prejudice.
“If we would have allowed those injustices to dwell with us, we would have never done the job we didn’t come to get even we came to serve our country,” Cotten said.