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Home | Cold War Turns Hot | The Armed Forces Integrate | What the Experts Say

Lessons from the Korean War

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Ellis: What should people know about Korean War relative to integration?

Hammond: It's a very important moment in regards to integration because it establishes the bonifides of the black soldier. It establishes without a doubt that he has as much character, endurance, capability as anybody else. And people are just people and if you treat them right, they will perform for you. But don't take a man and treat him like dirt and then ask him to die for you. He may die for you, but he'll do it for his own purposes not yours.

Smith: I wonder if the fact that Korean War was not remembered in some way reduced the impact of that knowledge - did that message get lost?

Hammond: Really don't know how to answer it. Really don't know if we're capable of answering it. If it was a forgotten war, it was because the veterans weren't telling their story; they were too busy making money. And ultimately they did tell their story. We had big fish to fry in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the Korean War was just the first gasp. Cold War was the second gasp I guess. Most of the Army didn't serve in Korea, most of it served in Europe. Some of our best generals didn't have experience in Korea. So it was one long convulsion. And we continue to convulse.