Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently hosted legendary actor Morgan Freeman at the Pentagon to honor the historic contributions and sacrifices of the 761st Tank Battalion.
The 761st Tank Battalion is known historically as “The Original Black Panthers.” Freeman, a celebrated actor famous for portraying iconic figures, was at the Pentagon to promote an upcoming documentary on the battalion.
“All Americans should be inspired by the story of the 761st Tank Battalion,” Austin remarked. “It’s an incredible story and a deeply American story.”
The 761st Tank Battalion, an all-black unit that fought bravely in World War II, was instrumental in rescuing the stepfather of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to Politico.
Their courage and dedication are now being brought to the forefront through the documentary Freeman executive produced, set to be released on Aug. 20.
Freeman’s visit to the Pentagon was not just about promoting the film. He emphasized the often overlooked history of black Americans fighting in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War.
Freeman recalled after playing Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins in the 1989 Civil War epic “Glory” that people told him they were unaware of the hardships black soldiers had to overcome.
“People who grew up, particularly in the South, think that all we did was drop cotton and drive mules,” Freeman said, later adding, “But if I want my story told, I have to tell it, don’t I?”
Austin thanked Freeman for bringing attention to the 761st and spoke about his own journey from growing up in the South to serving as the first black secretary of defense.
Morgan Freeman, who joined the Air Force in 1955 and served as a radar systems mechanic, shared personal insights from his career and emphasized the importance of authentic representation.
The story of the 761st Tank Battalion stands as a symbol of heroism and resilience. The battalion, the first African American tankers in the U.S. Army, amassed seven Silver Stars, 246 Purple Hearts and one Medal of Honor. They first saw battle in Normandy, France, in 1944 and participated in four major military campaigns across six countries.
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.