The strong legs, and quick feet, attached to Melvin Pender's five-foot, five-inch frame, have taken him to first-place finishes as a world-class sprinter. His gift of speed reached a pinnacle when he won a Gold Medal as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team in the 1968 Mexico Olympics. The feat was accomplished while Army Captain Pender was a combat soldier who was pulled out of the fighting in Vietnam which was an unpopular war. The story of Pender’s life will cause hearts to pound with joy, sadness, anger, and pride, as he chronicles his life's journey from childhood to pre-teen years idolizing the military and his decorated war hero, Audie Murphy, while growing up in two different impoverished and segregated worlds in the South. He was not limited by his surroundings, though, and found good and bad in them.
Determination was etched into Pender’s DNA, and he wanted to do something to make his family proud, and "be somebody!" His, is a story of the American Dream. He owns it, and he embraces it. He was scarred by the racial challenges of the 1950s and 1960s, but Pender found better angels, black and white, and kept his dream from becoming a racial nightmare. The United States Army and track propelled him into an historic figure. For some, Pender is the track world's "Black Knight," not because of his color, but because he befriended and helped others in his profession as a big brother, father-figure, and as a friend. One of the young men he influenced is United States Army Brigadier General Richard B. Dix.
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