Colonel Charles Young
"Yours for Race and Country"
Colonel Charles Young 1919
Courtesy: Library of Congress
To say that Colonel Charles Young was a dedicated and accomplished officer in the United States Army would be accurate, but in no way would convey the ground-breaking, distinguished and exemplary career that, along with his many other contributions to society, made him a role model whom few others could rival. Beginning his career as the 9th African American to earn admittance to the prestigious and elite officer training academy at West Point and only the 3rd to graduate he proved he had what it took to beat the odds and overcome racial prejudice and adversity. By the end of his career, which abruptly ended with his untimely death in 1922 while serving in Liberia, he had become the highest ranking African-American officer serving in the Regular Army up to that point in the history of the United States.
His lifetime was made up of numerous firsts, stellar accomplishments and history making achievements in spite of what would have been insurmountable odds for a lesser person. Long before he began his military career he had proven when it came to him, the odds didn't determine his future.
He was born to enslaved parents in Kentucky in 1864, but his father soon escaped and served in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. By the time he was a toddler both his parents had escaped slavery and had relocated to Ripley, Ohio. A center for abolitionism, he and his family were able to build a life as free people. He graduated at 17 yrs of age with academic honors from high school in 1881. After high school Young worked as an elementary school teacher and continued his education through coursework from Xavier University while under the tutelage of African-American abolitionist John Parker.
In 1883, through competitive examination he won an appointment to the United States Military Academy At West Point and became the 9th African American to be admitted to West Point, of which he became the 3rd to graduate. Coming out of West Point as a commissioned Second Lieutenant, he served in the 9th Cavalry and officially became a "Buffalo Soldier", as the Black Regiments had been nicknamed during and referred to as since the Indian War.
From there Young would serve in various posts always excelling and exceeding expectations. Serving in the Spanish-American War, Phillipine-American War and a Punitive Expidition into Mexico in persuit of Pancho Villa. In Mexico he received regonition multiple times. One of which was a result of having led a defeat of opposing forces without losing a man and saving General Baltran and his men after they had been out flanked. He was also a military attache` in both HAiti and Liberia.
His military career and its abrupt derailment at the beginning of WWI is highlighted in the Proposed Presidential Proclamation below.
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