As the first documented African American male to successfully complete the University of Notre Dame's Army ROTC program, and as an Ohio National Guardsman, I was compelled to write my essay on Charles Young. Charles Young attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Graduating in 1889, he was only the third African American cadet to successfully complete the course and to be commissioned as an army officer. At that time, he was one of a very small number of Black military officers. These Black officers served their country in a time when racism and discrimination were rampant. Many White soldiers had difficulties taking orders from African American officers or non-commissioned officers.
His first assignment after graduation was with the Buffalo Soldiers in the 10th Cavalry in Nebraska, and then in the 9th and 10th Cavalries in Utah. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he was reassigned as Second Lieutenant to training duty at Camp Algers, Virginia. He commanded the 10th Cavalry as a Captain and because of his exceptional leadership was awarded a commission as a Major in the Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Because of Young's performance in the Mexican theater of war, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was briefly Fort Huachuca's commander in Texas.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Young was the highest ranking African-American officer in the army when WW1 started. He was also the first African-American to reach that rank in the army.
During his annual medical exam, Lieutenant Colonel Young was diagnosed with high blood pressure and chronic kidney inflammation. On June 22, 1917, Young was retired, under protest. He still wanted to lead troops in the war though. On a day in June, 1918, the ever determined retired Lt. Colonel Young rode on horseback from Xenia, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., a distance of 497 miles, to show he was still physically fit enough to be reinstated.
Although denied an opportunity to serve in Europe, Young's...