"A Black Soldier Story”

In shadows cast by history's light,
A soldier's tale, both dark and bright.
Their skin, like night, oft overlooked,
In pages torn from freedom's book.

From Revolution's dawn, they stood,
For liberty, misunderstood.
In chains, yet fighting for the free,
Their valor, a silent decree.

In Civil War's divisive strife,
They battled for a better life.
In blue, they marched, in hope, they bled,
For unity, their spirits led.

In World Wars' vast and deadly sweep,
Their courage, sown in fields so deep.
In foreign lands, they fought with pride,
Yet, at home, their rights denied.

Korea's cold, Vietnam's heat,
In every war, they did not retreat.
In jungles dense, on mountains steep,
They sowed what future could reap.

Through desert storms and distant lands,
In conflicts hard to understand,
Their loyalty, a constant flame,
Yet back at home, it wasn't the same.

In uniforms, they bore the weight,
Of a nation's love, a nation's hate.
Defending those who oft denied,
Their rightful place, their human side.

Yet, undeterred by history's stain,
Their honor, they did not feign.
For country's love, not always returned,
In their brave hearts, it always burned.

Now hear these words, both true and deep,
For those who fought, for those who keep
The legacy of valor's course,
"Thank you for your service" - a powerful force.

A chorus rising, bold and new,
Acknowledging the trials they knew.
Their stories, now, we must embrace,
In our nation's heart, their rightful place.

For in their courage, we find a seed,
Of hope, of change, of a united creed.
In their footsteps, we learn to tread,
A path of respect, where once we fled.

So let us say with pride and grace,
To those once hidden, now face to face,
"Thank you for your service," deep and true,
For a better world, shaped by you.

Company I of the 36th Colored Regiment, which served at the American Civil War Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, September 1864. Credit: Public Domain

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali is a thought leader, strategist, policymaker, and activist committed to justice and equity. He is the founder of Revitalization Strategies, a business focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from “surviving to thriving.” Mustafa was previously the senior vice president for the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit and non-partisan organization that connects the hip-hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change.