Group of Tuskegee Airmen - photograph taken in front of the Booker T. Washington monument titled 'Lifting the Veil of Ignorance'. Photo: Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
First, they fought discrimination that nearly prevented them from serving in World War II, then they continued to fight it when they came home. The Tuskegee Airmen have been invited to watch the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Nearly 300 pilots and ground crew came forward in March 2007 to receive their bronze copies of the Congressional Gold Medal now at the Smithsonian Institution. It is not certain how many will travel to the inauguration. Many are now too elderly to make the trip. There were originally nearly 1,000 pilots and 15,000 ground personnel in the all-black units that made up the Tuskegee Airmen.
Many told the New York Times in interviews that they never expected to live to see the day when the nation would elect a black president. For them, the election was the culmination of a lifelong battle against discrimination.