It’s MLK Day. The sixties was a great era for acronymic names: JFK, RFK, and LBJ all knew MLK. He was often a burr in their saddle, but they respected him.
On this holiday, I’m honoring MLK by writing about a Civil Rights hero: Doris “Dorie” Miller. He served in the segregated World War II era Navy as a mess man. Despite that, he became a hero by manning a gun station on the deck of the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. To use contemporary terminology, he ran toward danger. He went down with his next ship in 1943.
An aircraft carrier, to be launched in 2028, is being named in his honor today. Carriers are typically named for presidents, which puts Miller in the company of FDR and JFK among others. I had to keep the acronymic theme going somehow.
The story of Doris Miller proves the utter stupidity of the racist stereotypes of his day: that African Americans were too stupid and cowardly to serve in combat. Today’s stereotypes are different but equally pernicious.
“Grandmother thought she was having a girl. And it wasn’t a girl! Doris turned out to be a boy, so that’s where that name came from.”
He made all the Doris’ in the world proud.
That concludes this de-facto Not Everything Sucks post. The last word goes to David Martin with this wonderful piece for CBS Sunday Morning: