💜 🎖️ In honor of the many who were never acknowledged, I’d like to lift up the story of former Army Private Osceola “Ozzie” Fletcher. Shortly after D-Day in 1944, Fletcher was in the back of a vehicle delivering supplies to Allied troops who were off the coast of France when he and his fellow servicemembers were hit by a German missile. The driver was killed, and Fletcher was left with a large gash on his head. His wound should have earned him a Purple Heart nearly 8 decades ago, but was denied the honor because of racism.
Back then, black soldiers were considered “injured” while white soldiers were considered “wounded.” For a wound to meet #PurpleHeart criteria, it must have resulted from either an enemy or hostile act or friendly fire, must require treatment by a medical officer and must be documented in the soldier’s medical record. Fletcher was never hospitalized. Black soldiers were just “patched up and sent back.”
Finally, in the Summer of 2021, Fletcher received his Purple Heart at a tear-jerking ceremony in Brooklyn. Army officials and other leaders praised him for his service and at long-last acknowledged that what he endured was an injustice. He was 99 at the time.