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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.

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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