Day 43: May 18
Leg braces used by Franklin Roosevelt
FDR could not stand without the support of leg braces like these. They were strapped to his legs and locked at the knee. These braces weigh approximately ten pounds.
In order to appear to “walk” in public, Roosevelt used a cane and a strong companion’s arm to support his weight while he pitched his body forward. This required skill and considerable upper body strength, developed through practice and exercise.
April 21, 1967, 12:30 am. The Situation Room informs the President about the early morning military coup in Greece. Details emerge throughout the day about the overthrow of the Greek Government. While the Prime Minister as well as other political leaders are arrested, King Constantine seems to remain in power. This leads some to question whether the King was involved in the coup.
Memo, Situation Room to the President, 4/21/67, #122, “Greece, Volume 2,” Country File, NSF, Box 126, LBJ Library.
Brown vs. Board of Education
On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning “separate but equal” as unconstitutional, stating that segregation in public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment.
Four years earlier, members of the Topeka, Kansas, Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine governing public education through a class action suit when they were denied the opportunity to enroll their children in the white-only schools.
When the Topeka case made its way to the United States Supreme Court it was combined with other NAACP cases from Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. The combined cases became known as Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. The Board of Education of Topeka (KS).
You can see the original Complaint against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Court Order, and correspondences between President Eisenhower about Brown vs. Board of Education from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Papers as President here.
Pictured: Supreme Court Opinion of Brown vs. Board of Education, pages 1-3. 5/31/55.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Bill to Break the Sound Barrier
If you were the first woman to break the sound barrier, who would you pick to fly the chase plane behind you?
Jacqueline Cochran tapped her friend, Colonel Chuck Yeager for the task for her May 18, 1953 flight. A logical decision, since he was the first pilot to break the barrier in 1947.
Here is his final bill for his expenses, including the replacement of dead chickens that stampeded when her low-flying Sabre jet flew over a ranch.
-from the Eisenhower Library
The S.S. Mayaguez Crisis — This Week in 1975
President Ford briefs the Bipartisan Congressional Leadership on the seizure of the American merchant ship S.S. Mayaguez on May 14, 1975.
The Mayaguez had been seized in international waters off the coast of Cambodia on May 12. Over the next two days President Ford and the National Security Council closely monitored the situation, ultimately deciding to use air strikes and send in Marines to rescue the boat’s crew.
President Ford received word that the Mayaguez and its entire crew had been safely recovered shortly after 11:00 p.m. on the 14th, and at 12:30 a.m. he made the official announcement to the press.
In accordance with the War Powers Act, on May 15 President Ford sent a letter to the Speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate regarding the Mayaguez incident. Read the President’s account of his actions here.
-from the Ford Library
Happy Birthday to Harry Truman, born on May 8 in 1884!
This post-Presidential photograph shows Truman holding a copy of the famous Chicago Daily Tribune declaring “Dewey Defeats Truman.” The newspaper had relied on early Gallup polls to predict the winner, but the polls were wrong. Truman was reelected.
The 33rd President grew up in Independence, Missouri, (now the site of Harry S. Truman Library & Museum) and after serving in World War I, he returned home and he married Bess Wallace, his childhood sweetheart. In 1934, he was elected to the Senate. He had only been Vice President for a few weeks when FDR died, and Truman was sworn in as 33 President of the United States.
For more Presidential photos and history, visit the new Our Presidents boards over on Pinterest!
from the U.S. National Archives
Alan Shepard gears up for his flight as the first American in space. May 5, 1961.
This photo from the holdings of the Eisenhower Library shows astronaut Shepard preparing for his record setting flight as the first American man in space.
-from the Jacqueline Cochran Papers, Federation Aeronautique International Series. National Archives ID #7065300
This post was originally a Doc of the Week from the Eisenhower Library
In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s an entertaining letter from JFK’s mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, to President Kennedy.
In 1962, Rose Kennedy wrote to Soviet Premier Khrushchev asking for an autographed photo. Learning that his mother had reached out to the Soviet Premier, JFK wrote her this letter asking her to please check with him before she took it upon herself to correspond with heads of state as requests like hers are “subject to interpretations.” The timing is interesting, considering JFK wrote back to Rose almost immediately after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In response to this letter, Rose Kennedy wrote back, saying: “I understand very well your letter, although I had not thought of it before. …When I ask for Castro’s autograph, I will let you know in advance!”
From the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Papers/JFK Library
President Obama is in Mexico today, and will speak from the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. In 1947, Mexican President Miguel Aleman greeted Harry Truman in the nation’s capital.
Here’s a photo of Aleman and Truman’s Presidential motorcade touring Mexico City. March 3, 1947.
-from the Truman Library