Well here we are in a new year and like me, you have probably set goals and determined that you are ready to change your destiny. Yes, 2018 is upon us and we are busy making changes–I personally believe that is a good thing. However, as much as we plan for the future, our destiny is often unknown to us as we embark upon the journey of life. The key to discovering our destiny is living life “undaunted.” An undaunted life is one that represents tenacity, drive, optimism hope, and determination, to name a few synonyms. We should not give up on our dreams, even in the face of the greatest obstacles. This is your year to grow, improve and go higher,
One person who epitomized an undaunted life is General (Ret) Benjamin O. Davis Jr. His father was a military officer and the first General of African descent in the Army, Brig General (Ret) Benjamin O. Davis Sr., a former Buffalo Soldier and war veteran of The Spanish-American War and World War I. General Davis Jr. grew up in the Washington DC area and had the privilege to receive an incentive flight at Bolling Field (AFB) when he was a young teen. That flight opened up a world of dreams in the young General Davis Jr. Unfortunately, he would have to cross some hurdles to get there! General Davis Jr. had to face the reality of social constraints during his formative years.
Intent on pursing his dream of flying as a military pilot, General Davis Jr. attended West Point Military Academy. It was there General Davis Jr. realized if he were to reach his goals, he had to have incredible resolve. He was isolated and faced many obstacles during his time at West Point. His classmates did not speak to him for the four years of school, except when necessary for the line of duty. Undaunted, General Davis Jr. graduated in 1936, ranked 35th out of 278 despite the challenges.
When General Davis Jr. received his commission, he was not allowed to fly initially because those of African descent were not permitted at the time, thus he was assigned to the infantry in the Army. As fate would have it, the Roosevelt Administration was pressured to allow greater participation by those of African descent in WWII. In 1942, General Davis Jr. was assigned to Tuskegee Army Air Field and was a part of experiential training in the first class to determine if in fact those of African descent could actually fly an aircraft. Not surprisingly, General Davis Jr. became the first person of African descent to make a solo flight in an Army Air Corps plane. He was quickly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and in August 1942 he was assigned as the commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron, one of eight flying squadrons that would become famously known as the Tuskegee Airmen. After fighting in combat during WWII in Germany and in Sicily, General Davis Jr. was reassigned to the 332nd Fighter Group as commander, composed entirely of Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen, led by General Davis Jr., through exceptional performance during the war as fighter escorts for bombers, demonstrated that indeed if you were of African descent, you had the intellect and capacity to fly, fight, and win! General Davis Jr. went on to reach many firsts and serve our nation in the highest leadership positions with honor, breaking many barriers. General Davis Jr. retired in 1970 as a Lieutenant General after 33 years of dedicated service to our nation through three wars. In 1998, President Bill Clinton promoted General Davis Jr. to the rank of four star.
Perhaps we can learn from General Davis Jr. on how to not give up and to live life undaunted. Every challenge and event in
our lives shape our future. Like General Davis Jr., we may not know our final destiny, but if we stay resilient, remain undaunted, we may reach heights that we never dreamed possible. We must never doubt what we bring to the fight every day as we move into the future in uncharted territory. Don’t limit yourself or God. Go back to school, change your profession, rebuild the relationships that are broken, pursue your passion, write that book, start that business, run for office, take the exam again, renew that relationship, pursue God, and in the end, dream again and go for it. We cannot accept the impossible, but find a way to reach our destiny. Look to the Lord and ask for strength, wisdom, and guidance. With God, nothing is impossible to those who believe. I have made up my mind that I am going forward in 2018, undaunted by the obstacles that lie ahead because I am ready to see where the Lord will lead and ultimately discover my destiny.
I conclude with the words of President Clinton when he promoted General Davis Jr. to the four star rank, “General Davis is living proof that a person can overcome adversity and discrimination, achieve great things, turn skeptics into believers, through example and perseverance, one person can bring truly extraordinary change.”