“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
via Our Documents
Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Sixty-five years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued his Executive Order that desegregated the armed forces and called for equality of treatment and opportunity for all.
Twenty years after the issuance of the Order, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sent this note to former President Truman, honoring that anniversary and Truman’s historic action.
-from the Truman Library
Ike Signs a “Short Snorter”
Sargent Griffith Harris of Cos Cob, Connecticut, holds his helmet while General Dwight D. Eisenhower signs his short-snorter. The General was on a flying trip to France. July 26, 1944.
During World War II, flight crews would sign a paper money bill together for good luck in the skies.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Presidential Prayers for Peace on Memorial Day
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day — a time set aside to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. On that day, the largest known ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery.
Over time, people adopted the name Memorial Day, and ceremonies were held across the country to honor all U.S. soldiers who had died at war. On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the President proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be held on the last Monday of every May.
This Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who have served our country.
Photo: President Harry S. Truman laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Memorial Day ceremonies. 5/30/48.
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
Today in History— The Death of Dwight D. Eisenhower
On January 20, 1961 Eisenhower retired to his small farm adjacent to the battlefield outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In retirement he did not completely retreat from political life. As an Elderstatesman he remained active in the Republican Party. Both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson solicited his advice on international problems.
Upon entering the office of the Presidency, Dwight Eisenhower had resigned his permanent commission as General of the Army. President Kennedy reactivated his commission as a five star general in the United States Army. With the exception of George Washington, Eisenhower is the only United States President with military service to reenter the Armed Forces after leaving the office of President.
In August 1965, Eisenhower suffered a serious heart attack that ended his participation in public affairs. He was frequently hospitalized over the next three years. He suffered another heart attack in the summer of 1968 and he spent his last few months in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where he died on March 28, 1969.
Eisenhower was buried in his World War II uniform.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Things to celebrate this weekend: The Liberation of Paris
On August 25, 1944, the occupying German garrison in Paris surrendered after a six day battle. The French provisional government headed by Charles De Gaulle was given civil administration of Liberated France.
Photo: Soldiers of the 4th U.S. Infantry Division look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, after the French capital had been liberated on August 25, 1944.
More World War II history from the FDR Library: Day by Day