COLUMBUS (WCMH) – More than 100 people spent their day at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in recognition of veterans’ week. 

On Sunday, many of our brothers and sisters in uniform were recognized for paying the ultimate sacrifice, including Dr. Harold Brown, 97, who received an award at the Ford Oval of Honor event. 

A retired lieutenant colonel who later earned a doctorate, Brown said though he is thankful to be recognized as one of eight living Tuskegee airmen, he was just a boy following his dream of being a pilot for the military. 

“There’s only four of us that are mobile, that can even get around,” Brown said

As a child, his mom tried to persuade him to play the piano but learned very quickly his life would revolve around pilots. Brown said he worked hard to make his dream a reality on his own. 

“So, I took my first five lessons when I was 16 and spent my last $35,” he recalled.

At 18, he applied to the military, calling himself lucky to have been able to enlist.

“There were literally thousands of guys like me who applied for flight training,” Brown said. “How I got selected was luck.”

Upon retiring, Brown decided to go back to school and later became the vice president of academic affairs at Columbus State Community College. He said he wanted and still wants to focus on our youth and remind them anything is possible despite multiple barriers. 

“Nothing comes easy,” he said. “Nobody is giving you anything. You got to work for it.”

Brown and his wife wrote Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman, a memoir about his World War II service, and published it in 2017. He is now visiting different states to share his story.