Monday, January 29, 2018

Death and Dishonor: Black World War II Hero Who Served Under General Patton Buried in Unmarked Grave in Chicago

Pictured are several of the medals issued to Theodore Lovejoy for military service during World War II. Click on the photo to increase its size. (Photos courtesy of Joan Flowers)

Daughter Alleges Clinton Administration Reneged on Promise to Have Him Placed in Arlington National Cemetery, Shares 2012 Letter Jay Sekulow Submitted to President Barack Obama

By Gary Glennell Toms

Joan Flowers has been on a crusade to have her father's memory and record of service recognized by the U.S. Army for nearly 25 years. Pvt. Theodore Lovejoy, according to military records, went from the rank of private to Warrant Officer in just a few years and served during World War II under General George S. Patton. During the fight to liberate Europe, he received numerous medals, including the Bronze Star. The Army was segregated at that time, and Lovejoy, who died in 1993, never received his medals. After nearly 60 years, and through the efforts of his daughter, the medals were presented to the family.  

In 2012, Flowers provided a detailed account of her father's military service and battle to have him buried in Arlington National Cemetery on "The American Hour" with Commander Tom Garcia. You can listen to the interview, which begins at the 16-minute mark, here.

In February of 2013, the Digital Journal website also reported the following:

"Joan and others started an extensive Twitter and Internet campaign, including tweets to senators, congressmen, the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell and the president and the first lady. For years this woman almost begged anyone that she perceived could help her in her quest.

"She finally received a letter from the Executive Director of Arlington Cemeteries, Kathryn A. Condon, apparently on behalf of President Obama, denying her request. The letter merely said that her father's military service is extremely admirable and greatly appreciated; however, on January 24, 2013 the Secretary of the Army declined to approve your request."

"I just don't understand why my father is being treated this way. He served his country with honor and was proud to do so, even when his country made him serve in a segregated unit," Flowers told From The G-Man. "He's received a number of medals for excellence, but he's being denied the right to be buried with other World War II heroes. It's just not fair or right, and it seems like the White House, the Army and many of the elected officials I've contacted over the years just don't care."

Flowers claims that Lovejoy was buried in an unmarked grave after the Clinton administration reneged on its pledge to have him transferred to Arlington and cover all expenses. "I was led to believe that my father was going to receive the honor that he rightfully deserves," said Flowers. "My family was also dealing with several tragedies during that time, which placed even greater pressure and strain on us. We believed the interment would only be temporary and gave the White House and Army an opportunity to do the right thing by my father and my family. It never happened."

Flowers cannot understand why requests for a presidential decree to have her father buried at Arlington have been denied and cited the action taken by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Reagan waived the eligibility requirement for burial at Arlington for legendary boxer Joe Louis, who served in World War II. Louis never engaged in combat and received the Legion of Merit for his "incalculable contribution to the general morale." "My father risked his life on a daily basis while serving under General Patton, but he can't receive the same level of honor and respect that was given to Joe Louis? I just don't understand that," Flowers stated.

In October of 2012, Jay Sekulow, who currently serves as counsel to President Donald Trump, offered assistance as Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. In a letter to then-President Barack Obama, which was submitted to From The G-Man by Flowers, Sekulow explained why Lovejoy was worthy of the honor and urged Obama to waive Arlington's requirements for burial. 

A portion of the letter stated the following:

"While President Truman's 1948 Executive Order abolished burial segregation in Arlington Cemetery, it did not reverse the effects of Jim Crow laws that had prevented African-American soldiers from advancing to positions for which they were otherwise qualified and from serving in capacities where they could have earned additional honors.

"Despite such impediments, Mr. Lovejoy served our Nation honorably. It is only fitting that he be permitted to join in death so many of his comrades in arms at Arlington. Mr. President, although you may not be able to help all of those whose military service was marred by racial prejudice, you can help one soldier."  

From The G-Man made several attempts contact Sekulow to pose questions about the letter and to obtain more information about President Obama's response. The attempts were unsuccessful.

On January 18, the office of Rachel Bold, Press Secretary for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, was contacted by phone and presented with several documents, via email, pertaining to the Lovejoy case. From The G-Man asked Bold if Govermor Rauner would respond to the fact that a decorated World War II veteran who served under General Patton is buried in an unmarked grave in his state. Additionally, she was asked if Rauner, a Republican, would be willing to ask President Trump to grant a special decree allowing Lovejoy to be buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery. To date, there has been no response from Governor Rauner or Bold.  

"This ordeal has been exhaustive and extremely frustrating, but I can't and won't give up. My father earned the right to be buried in Arlington. The previous administrations did nothing to help me or my family. I'm hoping that will change under our current president," Flowers concluded.

1 comment:

Mecheline Kelly said...

Wow Joan, this is clearly important to you and should be important to us all. I hope that our country will do the right and honorable thing for your family.

Loved to you and yours

Mickey (Metro class of '72')