Dorie Got a Medal

My post on USO #2, the tuneful downtown club for black soldiers during World War Two, focused on the visit of Dorie Miller and his remarkable, bittersweet story.  The Tacoma connection to the brave sailor is locally fascinating but the larger importance of Dorie Miller’s heroics reached America in the newspapers, magazines and popular media as courage and selflessness contended with racial prejudice and politics. The master radio storyteller Norman Corwin used  his April 25, 1944 broadcast of Columbia Presents Corwin to tell the Dorie Miller story in music and jazz. The legendary actor Canada Lee played Dorie along with the jazz and blues singer Josh White and a company of black artists. The program was called Dorie Got a Medal and here it is as broadcast that Tuesday night with the war in the Pacific still nearby, D-Day just over a month in the future and the U.S. military still segregated.

doris music
Dorie Miller with the band at USO#2, Tacoma

dorie buddy

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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