|2LT Bullard's awards, National Museum of the United States Air Force. Public domainfair use claimed, full citation below.|
Quick author's note: I have not done a "two-part" blog post. One of the reasons I did it with this one is there is A LOT to talk about with this subject, 2LT Bullard. I thought that breaking it up would work out better to stress certain aspects of the story.
So, without further adieu, let's get to part two, or "la deuxième partie," of this post.
When we last left off, Bullard had escaped to America with his children and had found himself being an elevator operator. I highly doubt that more than a handful of the elevator riders could have said "fifth floor, please" in French. Of course, Bullard would understand. He spoke both French and German. He was educated and not just in languages.
He held a PhD in racism and his dissertation was his life story.
One such chapter involved the Peekskill Riot of 1949. After a concert and rally organized by leftist, a group of thugs backed up by the cops threw rocks and attacked the concert goers. It's likely that this concert had liberals, socialists, and probably communists. My Dad lost part of his left hand fighting the Soviets in Budapest in '56, so I have no love lost for Communists or any of their political "first cousins." Still, no one deserves to be beaten just for his or her political beliefs.
Here is an excerpt from an article on the concert and the aftermath.
"One concert goer, Eugene Bullard, is spat upon by a veteran and spits back; he is thrown to the ground and badly beaten by a group of police officers."
Oh, and to my above comments about no one being beaten for their political beliefs, that especially covers peace officers.
Bullard was an incredibly brave man. He had his plane shot out around him compliments of 78 machine gun bullets and still lived to not only tell the tale, but fight some more. For most folks, one war is more than enough.
Not for Bullard.
When France fell to the Nazis, his jazz club became a real popular place with "der master race." He spied and I am guessing was quite effective at it.
I like to think but for his daughters, he would have stuck around Paris, continued his work for the French Underground, knowing it was likely a matter of time before he was caught. He would have gladly taken a bullet to the skull. Right after he knocked out cold some prick SS officer. Eugene was a boxer in a previous life, after all.
I am speculating of course. I did not know the man and am basing this on his pattern of behavior. And from this pattern of behavior, here was a man who had values. He valued those he loved. He valued fighting back against tyrants.
I cannot help but imagine that day after the concert he had reached a point where he said no more.
And he likely knew what was coming. The crowd and the police did not know who he was and even if he did, it wouldn't have mattered. They were drunk on the toxic liquor of hate and fear.
I'm surprised he was not beaten worse.
Fast-forward eleven years. The French leader, Charles De Gaulle, visits America. Although the Americans rolled out "le tapis rouge" for him with all the dignitaries. However, De Gaulle wanted to meet Bullard.
De Gaulle had led France's government-in-exile during the war and later became its elected leader. De Gaulle was not...a modest man. Churchill referred to him as, ''vain and even malignant.'' Now granted, Churchill was no wallflower himself but I think you get the point.
So I find it interesting that De Gaulle sought out Bullard. He viewed him for what he was, a hero, one worthy of recognition.
|de Gaulle meeting Vice-President Nixon and other dignitaries during his 1960 trip to America. It was de Gualle who insisted on meeting Bullard. Photo credit to Wikipedia, public domain/fair use claimed, full cite below in sources.|
R.W. Emerson has a quote: "Every hero becomes a bore at last." Eugene Bullard is the exception and sadly so. I say "sadly" for he never had the chance to be a "hero" in the traditional sense. Then again, that might make him even more of one.
There was a bit of atonement by the U.S. Government. Bullard became Second Lieutenant (2LT) Bullard in the United States Air Force on August 23, 1994. This was 77 years to the day of his rejection from the American Air Corps.
Better late than never.
Be well my friends,