The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

July 3, 2013

Patriotic family

Woman works to honor relatives’ memory

DANVILLE — During World War II, a flag hung in the window at the home of Herman and Berdie Carr Sr. in Danville. What made the flag unique were its five service stars — signifying the four sons and one daughter who were in the armed forces.

Now, the daughter of one of those service people is trying to get historical recognition for her relatives, 70 years later.

“I’m impressed with how the family persevered and stayed together and made a contribution (to the country and the community),” Debra Carr Davis-Moody, daughter of James Carr, said during a recent visit to her hometown.

What’s also unique, she said, is the Carr family was the only African-American family from Danville — and possibly the state and country — to have five siblings inducted during WWII within a significantly short time period of each other.

Four of the siblings joined the Army within a few weeks of each other; the youngest joined a year later.

Carr lives in Minnesota, but is in the process of moving to the Chicago area. She’s gathering information about her relatives’ service so she can get them designated as a historic family through President Barack Obama’s office.

The siblings were:

  • William was the first to go into the service on Feb. 3, 1943, and he went to Europe in a troop train service. Upon his discharge, he went to Indiana State University, and became a self-employed painter and wall decorator.

He died May 22, 1979, and is buried at the Danville National Cemetery.

  • James joined the service a week after his brother, on Feb. 10. He was sent to Europe with a field artillery unit, and was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.

By 1950, he had formed Carr Electrical Service, and was the only African-American electrical contractor for 13 of his 20-year career in Danville. He was a pioneer in development of the Community Action Program in the 1960s.

He died Nov. 9, 1974, and is buried at the Danville National Cemetery.

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