It’s a blessing and a privilege for our Black elders to grow old and see the fruits of their life's work come to fruition. This is especially true for those who have valiantly served our country and contributed to making it a better place.

This weekend, World War II veteran Eddie Durham will join the ranks of other American centenarians as he turns 100 years old. Durham was ​​a young sharecropper from the deep south of Greenville, Mississippi who joined the United States Armed Forces as a tech corporal and machine gunner while serving in World War II. While serving his country in the states and overseas, he drove a two and one half-ton truck to transport personnel and equipment. He went in convoy and blackout through the mountains while stationed in Italy. “We drove in the mountains in the dark, and I saw some of my friends drive off the cliff,” said Durham. “It seemed like their trucks just disappeared on the road. During his time in the United States Armed Forces, Durham fought in the Rome-Arno, North Apennines, and Po Valley campaigns.

Eddie Durham was married to Vernice Marie Whigham Durham for 50 years prior to her death. They had five children and a legacy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A commemorative tribute to celebrate and honor Durham will be held on Saturday December 11, 2021, from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. CST at Odyssey Venue, 19110 Ridgeland Avenue, Terrace Entrance on West Side, Tinley Park, Illinois. The celebration will include a special World War II tribute to Eddie Durham from Dr. W. Douglas Rasmussen III, Veterans Commission Chairman of Tinley Park who will speak and introduce the Presentation of Colors by VFW Post 2791. 

Eddie Durham as a young tech corporal. Image: courtesy of KTA Media Group
A photo of Durham from his younger days in his military gear. Image: courtesy of KTA Media Group
The centenarian at home. Image: courtesy of KTA Media Group