FROM TUSKEGEE TO EASTER SEALS: CICERO SATTERFIELD IS AN AIRMAN FOR LIFE
More than 70 years ago, Cicero Satterfield served with the Tuskegee Airmen, one of the most famed infantries in the history of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Today, at 93 years young, he is doing just fine and enjoying his days at the Easter Seals Adult Day Services Center within The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center in Silver Spring.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces, based in Tuskegee, Ala., that fought during World War II. Satterfield was in charge of maintaining the pristine condition of the Primary Trainer, Advanced Trainer and P-40 airplanes and making sure their engines were always running at high levels. The Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for Harry S. Truman to completely integrate the U.S. Military in 1948.
“Being a Tuskegee Airman is a big part of his identity,” said his daughter Renee Coates. “He and his fellow airmen are so happy to be finally getting the recognition they deserve. During the war, some of them were treated worse than their German prisoners.”
With the release of the motion pictures The Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails, awareness of the group’s historical significance has been heightened. Satterfield has been an honored guest of both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama at the White House. He had a seat on the steps of the Capitol Building for each of President Obama’s inaugurations and was on the National Mall facing the Lincoln Memorial during Dr. Martin Luther King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech during the summer of 1963.
“No matter what, the Tuskegee Airmen should be recognized for their accomplishments,” said Satterfield. “Some [people] thought we couldn’t do it, but we didn’t subject ourselves to that. We accomplished what they said we couldn’t.”
Originally from Kosciusko, Miss., Satterfield majored in Mathematics at Wilberforce University in Ohio and moved to Takoma Park in 1953 to accept an accounting position with the District of Columbia government.
Retired for almost four decades, Satterfield spends two days a week at Easter Seals, which provides opportunities to socialize, dance and enjoy thought-provoking activities, while at the same time receiving clinical oversight from a Registered Nurse and professional caregiving team. He also enjoys intergenerational activities with young children from the Easter Seals, Child Development Center, also housed in The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center. His time at the Center is completely funded by the Veterans Administration (VA).
As the eldest of all seniors at the Adult Day Services Center in Silver Spring, he has become the life of the party. “When Cicero comes here, he gives our other clients reason to smile by telling such charismatic stories about his younger days,” said Keith Rouse, Activities Director at the Center. “It really raises their spirits. When they see him dancing, they want to dance too.”
Satterfield’s family is also quite excited about what Easter Seals has done for him in so many ways. “He really looks forward to coming to Easter Seals Adult Day Services,” said Coates. “The Center has done a lot for him emotionally. Coming to Easter Seals makes him feel like he is contributing every day.”
He still lives in the same home that he moved into in 1965 with his wife Freda, with whom he had 12 children and a total of 93 grandchildren and great grandchildren. He spends a great deal of time visiting all of them in Mississippi, Florida and Nebraska.
Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA provides services to ensure all people with disabilities and other special needs, including wounded warriors, veterans, and their families, have equal opportunities to lead full and productive lives. For additional information, call 301.588.8700 or visit www.eseal.org.