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Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Tribute to Lyman Hubbard, Sr.

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    DURBIN. Mr. President, last year, we lost a great American from my hometown of Springfield, IL, and I rise today to pay tribute to him and his legacy.

    Lyman Hubbard, Sr., grew up on a small farm near Springfield that had been in his family for 165 years--long enough that at one point the family's lawyer for the land was a local attorney named Abraham Lincoln.

    In high school, Mr. Hubbard was a member of the National Honor Society, ran track, and played basketball and football. I have heard someone who knew him at the time say that he was ``the best athlete in Springfield.'' And he was an Eagle Scout.

    During World War II, before he had even graduated from high school, he signed up to serve his country in the Air Force.

    When he graduated from pilot training, he became the only person from Springfield to join the Tuskegee Airmen the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. From there, he fought for both our Nation and for racial equality. He logged more than 7,000 hours of flight time in the course of his multitour career, flying planes from the B-25 bomber to the EC-121 Super Constellation. He flew them well and became a leader among his peers, ultimately earning a Bronze Star, an Air Medal with oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and a Vietnamese Honor Medal. Lyman Hubbard accomplished all of this despite the well-documented discrimination that the Tuskegee Airmen faced.

    The people of Springfield, and all of us, owe a great deal to Lyman Hubbard, Sr., not just for his exceptional valor in combat but also for his devotion to preserving the history of the city of Springfield.

    When the Lincoln Colored Home, one of the first African-American orphanages in the United States and a historic property, was at risk of being destroyed, Mr. Hubbard purchased the home outright to save it and planned to turn it into a community center.

    [[Page S1228]] While we may have lost Lyman Hubbard, Sr., his legacy lives on.

    Just last week, it was announced that his sons will donate a collection of their father's medals, badges, and photographs so that we can all have a chance to see them.

    They will be displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport in Springfield, and I hope that those of us who can will take the time to see them and reflect on the life and heroism of Lyman Hubbard, Sr.

    I know I will.


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