Tuesday, March 13, 2012


It is hard to believe that the hospitality, compassion and love for our fellow man, expressed in the aftermath of  the USS Truxton and the USS Pollux running aground against the rocks in Lawn Point and Chambers Cove in February 1942, could impact the American Civil Rights.

But it did!

168 survivors were plucked from the frigid seas along the rugged clifts. 200 people perished in one of the American Navy's worst sea disasters.

I have had the opportunity to meet the only black survivor, Mr. Lanier Phillips on a couple of occasions. His experience as a black U.S. serviceman that was treated with compassion and kindness, with no regard for the color of his skin became a rallying call.  At the time segregation was alive and well in the Southern United States, and the experience changed his live.  He committed his life to the civil rights movement in the United States, marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King.

Phillips, 88, died yesterday. Despite his frail condition, he made the journey to the boot of Burin Peninsula a few weeks ago to mark the 70th anniversary of the disaster.

He was given honorary membership in the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and received an honorary degree from Memorial University.

His story is our story. His courage was borne from the courage of the men, women and children who  had little thought about their own safety, as long as they could save lives.

Ten years ago, a friend of mine, who visited Mr. Phillips quite often, was promoting a movie script based on the life and experiences of this great man.

Here is a link to his extraordinary story produced by Producer Chris Brooke.

I hope that this movie comes to fruition.

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