The Main Library downtown will be paying tribute to veterans with its annual commemoration today. The keynote speaker is James Shaw, who will be talking about the historic role of the Tuskegee Airmen. They overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II .
Shaw, who had firsthand experience with racism growing up in South Carolina, followed in their path, enlisting in the Air Force in 1955 and serving for 30 years. He was a Chief Master Sergeant and he's the President of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Shaw says his message is that we should move beyond what happened in the past because the country has improved so much:
"It's part of American history, the things that they and I went through, but we don't need to repeat those anymore."
Shaw says the goal of the local chapter is to keep the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen alive so it can motivate future generations.
After retiring from the military in 1985, he served for 12 years as the Aerospace Science instructor for the Junior ROTC at Lebanon High School. He says it was challenging, but gratifying. To this day, Shaw says he hears from former students who were part of the program.
The commemoration today starts at 10:45. It'll include the Sheriff's Bagpipe and Drums Corps, a presentation of memorial wreaths, lighting of the Flame of Remembrance and Taps.