The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.
George S. Patton Jr.
Frank Ewing Cheatham, my great uncle, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 27, 1931. During World War II, he was one of many African Americans that enlisted in the army. Uncle Frank could have enlisted as a way of escape from the racial tensions that were rising in St. Louis. Instead of staying home and enduring the hatred and discrimination of the times, my great uncle decided to go serve his country at a time of war, both here at home and abroad. Not only did he just serve in WWII, but he made the military his career. He served until his death in 1979. Although, Great Uncle Frank was a military man, taking care of his country, he also took time out for his family. Following are some cherished memories from his nieces Cathleen Allen Johnson and Lynn McFarland Kenney:
Uncle Frank and his family were stationed in Monteray, California. My mom and her sisters took me and my brother and cousins on an adventurous train ride from St. Louis to California. It was three days of wonder and jaw dropping experiences. We all had a ball on the train. This was in the late 1950s. As children we knew nothing of segregation, Jim Crow, or racism. We were on a train heading to beautiful California to see our uncle. We had to ride a ferry, after the train ride. Another new adventure. We were so excited to see our cousins Andrea, Princess, and baby Kirk. Aunt Verna made huge banana-nut cakes and cleaned her sand-filled backyard, not dirt-sand. We went to the beach and the rodeo. With cowboy hats to prove it. We had so much fun. I couldn’t believe that every day was sunny and humid free. My hair did not “go back” the whole time!!! I I just remember the big smile on Uncle Frank’s face. While he was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, we visited he and his family there, while we visited Famma’s sister’s farm in Hopkinsville. Famma was what I called my grandmother, Princess. Fun, fun, fun on the farm. Cathleen Allen Johnson (niece).
My fondest memory of Uncle Frank was when he would come to St. Louis. He always drove his Cadillac and we knew we were going to have fun. He called us “Pep”. When I lived with him every Saturday in the summers were lawn day. That is why today I know how to take care of my lawn. Lynn McFarland Kenney ( niece)