We Bleed the Same Blood

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Xavier Lockley
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

I truly thought that I’d never bring this day up but in light of recent events, I think its time to explain how we’re not all equal in the eyes of everyone even if we want to believe we are.

The day is June 10, 2013 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. There were three of us honor guardsmen practicing before we headed out to the little town of Crosbyton, Tx. to perform at a funeral. We practiced as we normally did and I ran through my script as I was selected to present the American flag to the family.

We had a long two and a half hour drive which seemed like forever just looking at fields of dirt and broken down tractors.

As we approached the funeral site, I began to get a little nervous because it was almost time to perform. The reading and handing off the flag was my favorite job during Honor Guard ceremonies. I felt prideful about my professionalism and how I was a true representation of the Air Force, I took the job very seriously.

Myself and the other two honor guardsmen got into position and marched toward the site. Everything seemed as if it were going according to plan. My friends folded the flag and handed it off to me so I could wrap up the ceremony. I walked toward the family like I’d done thousands of times prior except this time it was different. I could usually read the body language of the recipient whether they’re sad, grateful or a combination of both, but this time there was nothing. For my small speech there was no eye contact or anything. It felt like what I compare to an angry customer being given a receipt from a cashier, but I didn’t want to think the worst.

As I walked away whispers started “Why did that black boy have to give us the flag?”

Immediately, I felt my stomach drop. But I kept walking to maintain professionalism. When I got to our van my friends were changing into our travel gear and some members of the family began to approach our vehicle. All three of us standing side by side.

“I wanted to thank you guys for that ceremony,” said the family member. As that happened he gave my other two friends handshakes and left me hanging. I was stunned by that, even more so were my friends. We immediately got into the van and quickly departed back home. I was silent the entire time, still stunned by what I witnessed.

I felt naive to think that the uniform was my protection against any racial discrimination some people will never see us the same. However, the support from my friends was huge, they saw things from a different lens that what they were accustomed to. That day I believe taught each one of us a lesson, just because we wear the same uniform doesn’t mean that we’re seen as equals in the eyes of everyone.