Jennifer Barnhill is a columnist for Military.com writing about military families.
If you had opened Heroic Comics issue number 81 in 1953 when it was published, you would have seen an incredible true tale of bravery as a soldier fought to save the lives of his battle buddies atop “Hill 528.”
The battle took place in Korea, in June 1952, when Cpl. Fred McGee assumed command from his wounded squad leader and held off the enemy so his troops could take Hill 528. Despite being shot in the face and leg, he stayed behind to carry wounded soldiers to safety. His actions earned him the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.
But something about the comic is off. Instead of seeing a depiction of McGee, a Black man, the cartoon hero meant to embody his acts of valor is white. It was just one sign that gaining recognition for McGee's place in history wouldn't come easily.
Despite recommendations from a number of officers, it would take until after his death in 2020 for McGee's actions to be fully recognized. Approval to award McGee the Medal of Honor now sits on President Joe Biden's desk, with his family attributing much of the delay to the way the country treated Black Americans in the 1950s. The family's fierce advocacy led to the opportunity for much of the public to hear McGee's full story.
The injustice apparent in our failure to recognize veterans like McGee highlights the importance of capturing our military stories. But what…