Black History Month
CBS News Story

Story Published:
Feb 13, 2008 at 8:02 PM EST
by Miranda Grossman

As we celebrate and reflect on black history this month, one local man has a growing tribute to African Americans who served in the military in World War II. It is in of all places, Pownal, Vermont. One of the nations whitest states.

Among photos, collections of artillery shells and models of tanks and warships, is Bruce Bird's dedication to the history of Black Americans who served in the military, and specifically, World War II. "You read about the Battle of the Bulge and African Americans weren't there, they were with Patton's troop coming to rescue Bastogne. Half the artillery battalions were black, the first ambulance company in was a black ambulance," said Bruce Bird, the founder of the Museum of Black WWII History in Pownal.

Bruce transformed an old school house into his museum about a year and half ago. A native Vermonter, he thought the place was as good as any to educate people on the role of African Americans in the military. "I've had people come in, some are veterans, to do talks. One was an engineer in the Pacific, the other was a Tuskegee Airman."

More than 1.1 million African-Americans served in the Armed Forces in World War II, and there were plenty unsung heroes on previous wars. "There is some debate among historians that the black 9th and 10th calvary may have made it to the top of San Juan hill (in the Spanish-American war) the same time Teddy Roosevelt did," said Bird.

While the museum might be off the beaten path, it's a way to celebrate black history all year long.