The Black Veterans thoughts of Haiti


FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailBy: Charles Blatcher, III
Chairman, National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations

The concept of Freedom is free however, actual Freedom comes with a price. The payments can become due in different forms and at the most inopportune times. Our call for a truce in Haiti is our way of saying we are empathetic of the hardships the nation is facing. We are suggesting a more diplomatic approach in how solutions are sought beyond terrorizing the citizens with civil unrest. There is an old saying, “Circumstance don’t make the person, it reveals the person.” The same applies to countries.  

Freedom in Haiti is far from being what General Toussaint L’Ouverture fought to establish in 1799 while leading the revolt against the French Government. The general died in a French prison in 1803, the year Haiti declared its Independence.  It is not the country Captain Charles Young fell in love with while serving as military attaché in 1904. The country inspired some of his poetry about the beauty and magic he seen and felt during his years of service in the country. He embraced General L’Ouverture’s history and held him in the highest esteem. He is quoted saying he wanted to be a Toussaint L’Ouverture one day and free his people. Both men believed in the potential of Haiti. Young was proud to see an independent nation in the Western Hemisphere governed by black peoples.  He wanted Haiti to shine as a beacon of dignity, pride and respect. A nation governed by the rule of law, respectful of the humanity of its citizens, virtues nonexistent for Black people in America during that period in history.  

As a matter of speech, the train jumped the track in Haiti years ago. The country has floundered since its declaration of independence. While there are differences of opinion about why and how the nation has failed, there is no doubt the train is off the track. The earthquake of 2010 appears to have been the straw that has broken the will of the people.  According to media accounts, life had been reduced to survival. Hopefully, this is the time in history when Haitian people recognize it is imperative to set-aside differences and focus on what is important for Haiti’s wellbeing. Haitian children need to be in school, Haitian markets should be open, Haitian farmers back in the fields, Haitian fishing boats on the water, and discussions of technology and manufacturing opportunities should resume and progress. The island nation should be bustling with tourists seeking cultural experiences, enjoying the food, music and hospitality while basking in the beauty of the Caribbean sunshine.  General Toussaint L’Ouverture, and the late Brigadier General Charles Young would regale in Haiti becoming a productive independent nation, the pride of the Caribbean. The Black American public wholes a direct relationship/kinship with Haiti. Our heritage came through the Island Nation. Let me throw some history into the mix. Prior to the Haitian Revolution some French aristocrats, slave owners, anticipated the rebellion. In preparation they relocated to the mainland with human property in tow. Slavery was legally practiced in the South, so the lifestyle was compatible to Haiti before the revolution. The Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery in America was not enacted until January 1, 1863, sixty years following Haiti’s Declaration of Independence. Juneteenth, Black Independence Day, did not occur until June 19th, 1865, when the last Black people held in bondage were freed by the Union Army in Galveston, Texas. 

In closing, Haiti has a future, survival is in the island’s DNA.  However, the rate and quality of its survival depends on its citizens’ ability to put the nation before self-ambitions. The National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations does not have an opinion or preference about the leadership in Haiti. The choice belongs to the citizens of Haiti. It is just our hope that the choice can be made respectful of human life and public safety. The question Black America and the world is waiting to see answered is as follows:  Can the citizens of Haiti put aside internal grievance and cooperate in the transformation of the nation into the island paradise envisioned by two legendary Black Soldiers, General Toussaint L’Ouverture and Brigadier General Charles Young?  The world is watching! 

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