The hazards and challenges of combat flying in World War II are almost beyond comprehension today. So were the challenges of being a black man in the 1940s, Now imagine what kind of human being it took to meet and overcome both sets of challenges simultaneously.
Our greatest generation is disappearing before our eyes. Most of them are already gone. It will take another 20 years or so for the very last to go but what will we say then? If I am still alive by that time, it will seem lonely, as though another parent has gone. The Second World War still loomed very large indeed when I was born in 1949. It fades a little every year and the day will come, a century or more in the future, when no living person can remember the World War II veterans.
May the day come though, when there are no war veterans at all, for the world will have gone 80 or 90 years without a war.
Former Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. John Mosley, a Denver native who was a trailblazer in collegiate sports as well as the civil rights movement, died Friday, days before the day set aside to honor the sacrifice of those who like him defended the nation.
He was 93.
During World War II, Mosley aggressively sought the right to fly and fight for this county.
“He always said that he had to fight in order to fight,” said his son Eric. “He used that saying as a benchmark in his life. He had to struggle to be able to fight for his country.”
“He always had the determination to be the best he could be and be someone extraordinary,” Eric recalled.
Former Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. John Mosley (Denver Post file)
Mosley excelled despite segregation and the prejudice that once existed. In his youth, blacks were confined by covenants and standards to living in an area just east of downtown. He refused to become bitter.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to move ahead,” he recalled in a 2008 interview. “I was too busy trying to ensure that I got everything I possibly could out of school and also to participate in athletics.”