Remembering Integration: Brunson family shares 100 years of service
July 29, 2008
By Lindy Kyzer
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 29, 2008) -- Serving in the Army is a family tradition for the Brunson family of Fayetteville, N.C.
Six members of the family share a career of service and sacrifice in the Army,
including retired Sgt. Maj. Albert Brunson (father); Lt. Col. Xavier Brunson (son); Maj. LaHavie Brunson (son); Maj. Tavi Brunson (son); Lt. Col. Kirsten Brunson (daughter-in-law); and Capt. Miryam Brunson (daughter-in-law).
Five members of the family came together during a recent Army blogger's roundtable held in honor of the 60th anniversary of the integration of the armed forces marking when President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Brunson, the first in his family to serve in the Army, discussed growing up during the period before desegregation.
"I can remember as a youngster, before joining the military," said Brunson, "having gone to the courthouse and in fact, the signs were there at the water fountain...And I suppose for me to go back and talk about all of the changes that I have witnessed, we'd probably need a lot more than an hour. However, what I will say, I will say that some of the changes that I witnessed in the military - and the military, believe it or not, probably was at the forefront that dealt with segregation."
Brunson served in Vietnam and remained in the Army when his initial tour of duty was complete. His eldest son, Lt. Col. Xavier Brunson, cited the image of his father as the key reason behind his decision to join the Army. Following him, younger brothers Maj. LaHavie Brunson and Maj. Tavi Brunson had both a brother and a father to look up to when making their decision to serve.
"...that's what my father brought home, so a lot of the values that you talk about as inculcating from our service really had their earliest roots in the love of our family and the love of this great nation," said Lt. Col. Xavier Brunson. "So I would just like to throw that out there to everybody and let you know that we treat this like a profession. This is our family business."
"The Brunsons have passed on a tradition of service to this nation that -- it was all we were ever meant to do," Lt. Col. Xavier went on. "This is our calling. From the folks we married to the things we do professionally, this is it for us. And so our treatment has always come from really looking at things through the filter of our own experiences in the Army. And it's always been good."
The Brunson family has maintained a high standard throughout their tradition of service. Lt. Col. Kirsten Brunson was recently named as the first African American female military circuit court judge, making her the second military judge in the Brunson family with the ability to argue before the Supreme Court. In total the family has more than 100 years of service and has deployed to places including Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Italy, Kuwait, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Belgium, Japan, Guam, Spain and England.
Maj. LaHavie Brunson is currently deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, but made time to participate in the call while he was on leave with his family. He cited the quality of the Soldiers with whom he serves and considers re-enlisting the Soldiers serving under him as a very proud moment in his career.
"I don't think there's any degrading in the quality of Soldiers that are coming today," said Maj. LaHavie Brunson. "I think the ones that are coming today know what they're up against...they show their metal in the fact that they commit during a time of war, and knowing that there is a potential that they will have to deploy."
For the Brunson family, making the commitment to serve continues to be a family tradition, with another niece recently making the decision to enlist in the Army. Retired Sgt. Maj. Brunson summed up the family commitment to service.
"She's just happy to get into this business, as well," said Brunson.