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No Medals is a Christmas story wrapped around a search of government records to locate the file of a deceased, black World War II veteran, author Peter C. Banks’s father, John Henry Banks Jr. The investigation to find the records begins in 2000 and concludes on Christmas Eve, one year later. Peter Banks recounts the steps that he took to find his father’s service records—steps that anyone can follow if they would like to locate the war history of a relative who was a veteran of World War II.

The journey is sprinkled with bitter disappointments and exciting revelations as Banks tries to confirm his father’s service as an acting corporal in World War II—a common duty that became a life-threatening activity during his service tour in Europe. At the time of the elder Banks’s military service, most of the war experiences of black veterans, no matter how heroic, were not treated with the same respect as those of white soldiers.

No Medals paints a vivid picture of the segregation of the United States Army of the 1940s. For Banks, it completes his journey to respect his father’s dying words, “Do something good; leave a positive legacy in your life … try to do something that will last!”

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