I use to be a Negro.
Before I became a proud Black man.
When much younger I enlisted into the military.
And doing the best I then could do.
To prove I wasn't afraid,
By not running away...
To be of service to the U.S.A.
I wore a uniform.
And pledged allegence to a flag.
I didn't leave my identity behind.
Nor have I ever looked for excuses to make.
For faith I kept or my belief in God.

I have been cast as a maverick.
And called Uncle Tom.
By those who today,
Used Uncle Tom to benefit their lives.

I have been disliked,
By both blacks and whites.
And those who believed me to be mulatto.
A mongrel of mixed heritage.

My abilities are as diverse,
As the people living in the United States.
With their divided states of mind.
Am I a nationalist.
Am I a bigot or a racist.
Am I a hypocrite.
Am I all of this.

I enlisted into the military.
And that was in 1965.
Today at 71 close to 72.
Anyone can call me what they want.
Names I have been called,
Would appall even Lucifer.
Proud I am.
And the service volunteered to this country.
If I choose to call myself,
Anything I wish.
That decision is mine to have earned.
Others offended,
By who calls them what to know it demeans.
Have yet to discover,
The living to identify their own realities.
And seek to have their insecurities offended.

by Lawrence S. Pertillar

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