Christina A. Sharik


A Salute to the 761st Tank Battalion

How come I never heard of these people?
Why don’t we know more about this
sort of thing?
No mention of them in the movies
or in the history books I’ve read –
Just a void – nothing?
It makes me mad and sad,
so angry,
so aggravated
that by simply visiting a friend’s
web page
I am being educated.
Learning is a lifetime thing
that’s true;
but these are things I should
already have known.
It makes me blue.
So, here’s my Salute to the 761st
the tankers, the soldiers,
who have just now burst
into my living room and made their
presence known,
whom I have met while sitting here
Blessings upon you and yours
Your sacrifices couldn’t be more clear.

----Original Message Follows----
From: Samuel Wooton [Email address Supplied]
To: Christina [Email Address Supplied]
Subject: Army Mom’s Safe Haven
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 16:25:31 – 0800


I came across your poems while doing preliminary research on a project. I am a professional French photographer, born, raised and educated in Sainte Mere Eglise, Normandy, France but now living in San Francisco. My mother is French and my father is a retired African-American serviceman of the US Army.

This coming June, France will be staging a glamorous celebration for the 60th anniversary of the landing of Allied Forces on the coasts of Normandy, France. If the past celebrations are any indication – and I witnessed many over the decades – some very important veterans will be notoriously missing on the photographs: the African American veterans.

They will not be welcomed, celebrated or honored by national European officials, local European veterans and simple folk. During the official ceremonies in France this summer, a French president and a German chancellor, for the first time ever, will stand side by side to honor the veterans personally. Who ever, in France honored the African American soldiers?

I would like to realize a photographic essay on the last African American veterans of World War II and IN PARTICULAR of those who landed on the beaches of Normandy and/or crossed Normandy at some point during their time in France. Being from Sainte Mere, I know the 101st Airborne was very present. I wish to capture the intimate moments (in photographs and audio recordings) of these once young warriors; the fear, pain and pride on their faces as they relive battle moments, reminisce of racial hardships at the time and reflect on a lifetime without the official recognition given so many others.

The result will include a series of individual and group portraits as well as photographs of veterans in their everyday lives It is very likely that the French government will sponsor a show of this work in France next year, for the 61st anniversary. The work might also be included in the archives of the MEMORIAL DE CAEN in Normandy (France’s largest World War II museum). I am already negotiating these two points with the respective French authorities.

I may eventually broaden the scope of my subject by including Afro American World War II veterans in general. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this lengthy email. You may even have some pointers which could be useful.

However, the main purpose of this mail is to ask for your permission to use one of your poems: “A Salute to the 761st”, in my project proposals. It is very beautiful and I would be touched to be able to use it… signing your name of course.

Samuel Wooten

PS: The link below will show you some of my recent photographic work from the Middle East.

To the question, “what is war”, a veteran answered: “Each veteran has his own set of answers: they are like sharp little photographs that from time to time he looks at just to remind himself that he lived through a great tragedy and was forever changed by it”.