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On Memorial Day, 1983 in Liberty, Indiana, Joseph Alvin Sawyer,
Sr.gave the annual speech honoring veterans to citizens and veterans
assembled on the courthouse lawn in the center of town. Sawyer had been a
sergeant and paratrooper in the Army during World War II. He'd moved in
1948 to the small farming community in eastern Indiana to raise his
family. His wife and children watched with particular pride because he was
the first African-American veteran asked to speak on Memorial Day.
Joseph Alvin Sawyer, Sr
Photo courtesy of the Sawyer family
daughter, Joanne SawyerKnoll of Escondido, California,called our Quest for
Sound line to tell us about the speech. His sons, Joseph Sawyer, Jr. and
Russell Sawyer, helped arrange for us to hear it through NPR member
station KQED in San Francisco.
Joseph Sawyer talks about the responsibility and debt the citizenry
owes to veterans for their sacrifice to make a better world. In her
message, Joanne SawyerKnoll said the speech expressed "who my father was
and what drove him in his quest for honesty and integrity throughout his
life." Mr. Sawyer died in July, 1983, just two months after making this
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Copyright © 1999 The Kitchen Sisters