Charles Blow: My Own Captain America

Charles Blow, in his New York Times column, writes about finding his own Captain America in his grandfather, who fought in World War II.

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Fred D. Rhodes, right (Department of Defense, 1944)

Charles Blow, in his New York Times column, writes a stirring account of how seeing the film Captain America evoked strong memories of his grandfather, who fought in World War II as a "Buffalo Soldier."

My grandfather spoke to me this week. That would've been unremarkable if not for the fact that he died four years ago.

I had ducked into a movie theater to escape the maddening debt-limit debacle. I chose "Captain America: The First Avenger." Surely that would reset the patriotic optimism.

But as I watched the scenes of a fictitious integrated American Army fighting in Europe at the end of World War II, I became unsettled. Yes, I know that racial revisionism has become so common in film that it's almost customary, so much so that moviegoers rarely balk or even blink. And even I try not to think too deeply about shallow fare. Escapism by its nature must bend away from reality. But this time I was forced to bend it back. It was personal.

The only black fighting forces on the ground in Europe during World War II were segregated, including the 92nd Infantry Division: The now famous "Buffalo Soldiers." My grandfather, Fred D. Rhodes, was one of those soldiers ...

Read Charles Blow's complete column at the New York Times.

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