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Risking It All For Old Glory – Miss Clark’s Truly Historic Blog

Chris Hauff Jun 12, 2020

Sgt. William Carney was the first African-American to earn the Medal of Honor.

The U.S. Army will celebrate its 245th birthday on Sunday.  The anniversary of its creation is celebrated every year as Flag Day, June 14.

Throughout our nation’s history, many heroes have risked their lives in defense of our flag; many more have given the ultimate sacrifice. This week’s blog post is dedicated to all the people who love and respect the flag no matter where or when they are asked to serve.

William Harvey Carney was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor. He earned it for his incredible act of bravery in risking his life and newly acquired freedom to ensure “Old Glory” did not touch the ground.

On May 23, 1900, when Sgt. Carney received his much-deserved medal, he was asked about his actions.  He said, “I only did my duty.” If you are a history buff, you may know about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which fought in the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

During the battle, on July 18, 1863, Sgt. William Carney’s commander was mortally wounded. Carney, now in command, used all his strength, grabbed the flag, and said, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.” He continued to charge alongside his men even though he had been severely wounded.

More than half of the men in Carney’s company were mortally wounded in battle, and are buried in a mass grave near today’s Folly Beach. The 1989 movie “Glory” is based on this truly historic battle.

Carney miraculously survived the battle and later served as a U.S. Postal Employee and successful public speaker. His topic – patriotism.

The first African American Medal of Honor recipient’s body now rests in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the Oak Grove Cemetery.  He lived to be 68 years old.

Official Medal of Honor Citation: When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.

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History Education Program Coordinator Cindy Clark (Miss Clark) comes out of the brig aboard the USS Yorktown.

Getting To Know Miss Clark:

My name is Cindy Clark, but most of my life as a teacher I’ve been known as Miss Clark. For more than 24 years, I was blessed to teach in a traditional classroom full of students who often taught me more than I taught them. Today, I am honored to be part of the Education Department aboard the USS Yorktown at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, and boy is my classroom much BIGGER!!!

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