Letters to the Editor

Ned Gardner: Privileged existence

Regarding the Dec. 19 letter “ No ‘white privilege’”:

I have a neighbor who, like the letter-writer, is a Marine veteran. He was permanently disabled in Vietnam. He jumped from a helicopter in full combat gear. The jump should have been a few feet. But the fire-fight became so intense that the helicopter pilot lifted up suddenly. My neighbor had started his jump, did not have the balance to abort his jump and fell 30 feet. He broke his back. The good news was he did not become paraplegic. After a lengthy rehab, he was able to walk with a cane.

After discharge from the Marine hospital in South Carolina, he was traveling with his wife home to New Jersey and was catching a flight at the Charleston airport. He was in full dress uniform wearing a Purple Heart. He and his wife went to eat in the airport cafe. It was not busy. They waited to be served. And they waited. Finally, a janitor came over and told them, “Man, they’re not going to serve you.” The janitor was black. So were they.

I grew up in North Carolina during the 1950s and 1960s, and I well know I benefited from “white privilege.” It must have been a sense of personal moral perspective engendered by my responsible parents.

Ned Gardner