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Bill setting up a Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day soars through final Senate committee

U.S. Air Force
The bill would establish a legal holiday for the Tuskegee airmen in Florida, our nation's first Black military pilots.

A bill that would create a new legal holiday to commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen, has passed its final committee in the Florida Senate, on its way to a full vote by the Senate.

A companion bill in the House is getting its second reading in the Florida House Wednesday, February 21.

Every member of the Rules Committee in the Florida Senate voted to approve the bill setting up a legal holiday in Florida to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, our nation’s first Black military pilots.

Sylvester Terry is president of the Chief Master Sergeant Richard Hall Jr. Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated.

Terry said the fact the bill has been overwhelmingly supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle, and is now headed to a vote in the Senate is a major win.

“I think as a voting American, in this environment, it shows hope that we can work together as a people on a common cause to do the right thing, because it's the right thing, not because there's a political advantage or anything else,” said Terry.

Terry said a yearly holiday will help ensure the memory of the Tuskegee Airmen is never forgotten, and that the next generation of great pilots and military men and women are inspired by their story.

“That will inspire generations for years to come even though those of us that were involved in it will be long forgotten. But the American heroes known as Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails that’s who we’re doing it for. In honor of them, as well as to inspire youth in the future," said Terry.

If the governor signs the bill into law, Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day would become a yearly holiday on the fourth Thursday in March every year.

Many of the Tuskegee Airmen were from Florida including General Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., Second Lieutenant Charles P. Bailey, Sr., Lieutenant Alvin J. Downing, Second Lieutenant Alphonso Simmons, First Lieutenant James Polkinghorne, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel George E. Hardy, Lieutenant Daniel K. Keel, Jr., Callie Odom Gentry, Chief Master Sergeant Richard R. Hall, Jr., and Lieutenant Raymond Cassagnol.

The Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush.

Learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen here.

Read the full bill below:

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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