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One of Many Stories from a Vet

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, October 24, 2008, at 05:06PM
the soldier Ed Fuentes

Sgt William Perry

“The first casualty of war is truth,” says the Buffalo solider deep inside City Hall late Friday morning. “We thought if we fought, we could make a difference.”

The strong 84-year-old voice was 92nd Infantry Division Sgt William Perry. He wasn't paraphrasing a quote for today’s climate of conflict. He was referring to a different time, when African-American servicemen fought for freedom abroad while having very little of it at home, making for a two-front battle.

After the presentation in front of Council, Perry shared some stories. He told how he spent basic training in Arizona, 80 miles north of Mexico. He was not allowed to take furlough in the nearby towns, only across the border. Perry quietly adds that only 15,000 African-Americans were allowed to be trained at the same time: "They didn’t want too many armed Negroes in the same state."

Once stationed abroad, he, like many serviceman, experienced the small freedoms they were fighting for. Perry himself attended opera while stationed in Italy and shared tables with others at European cafes.

He was in from Ohio for the release of Miracle at St. Anna, a new film that's set in 1944 Italy and is about four black American soldiers trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII. Perry was a consultant for the Spike Lee film, and it will be shown in a special screening at City Hall at 1pm on Saturday.

The event will hosted by his niece, CD14 Councilwoman Jan Perry.

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