U.S. Navy honors mess attendant who became a civil rights inspiration

U.S. Navy to honor mess attendant who became a civil rights inspiration

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - To mark the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the U.S. Navy renamed an aircraft carrier in their fleet as an homage to a brave young man.

On Monday, Navy officials announced the renaming at Pearl Harbor in honor of Mess Attendant third Class Doris Miller. He was the first African American to get the Navy Cross for valor.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, then 22-year-old Miller did what he could, manning a machine gun on the USS West Virginia — an action that would have meant a court martial at the time, as no African American was allowed to handle a military weapon.

But it was his actions and bravery that started to shatter traditional thinking in the forces.

“Without him really knowing, he actually was a part of the Civil Rights movement because he changed the thinking in the Navy,” Doreen Ravenscroft, president of Cultural Arts of Waco (Texas), and team leader for the Doris Miller Memorial, said.

“In the end, the fact that he didn’t think about what could be repercussions — that wasn’t a thought, when, at the time and in war, he did what was needed in his way to defend the United States of America,” she said.

“I think that Doris Miller is an American hero simply because of what he represents as a young man going beyond the call of what’s expected,” added Ravenscroft.

Miller died two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor when his ship, the Lipscombe Bay, was hit by a torpedo.

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