JFK and the Green Berets
On October 12, 1961 President Kennedy visited Fort Bragg and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces. In the course of his meeting with Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, the President commented on their hats: “Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?” General Yarborough replied, “They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.”
Soon after, the President authorized the “Green Beret” as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and these Unconventional Warriors were thereafter and ever known as “The Green Berets.”
Read more about President Kennedy and the Green Berets on the Kennedy Library Website.
"During World War II, of course, I ate my share of SPAM along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it — uttered during the strain of battle, you understand."
-Eisenhower’s letter to the President of the Hormel Foods Board regarding SPAM
In 1966, Eisenhower wrote to H.H. “Tim” Corey (President and later Chairman of the Board of Hormel Foods) at the request of a mutual friend to recognize the 75th anniversary of the company. The tongue-in-cheek letter recounts Eisenhower’s remembrances of Spam during WWII.
PHOTO CAPTION: This unsigned file copy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter to H.H. Corey was retained by his staff to document what he wrote.
-From the Eisenhower Library
Downed pilot George Bush is rescued by the Navy submarine, USS Finback. 9/2/44.
George Bush flew a TBM Avenger for the United States Navy during World War II.
He joined the Navy on June 12, 1942 when he turned 18. One of his most memorable missions was when George and his crew of two other men were flying over one of the Japanese islands and their plane was badly damaged.
He had to bail out into enemy waters where he was luckily saved by one of the United States’ fast submarines; the USS Finback. He stayed on the sub for a month before returning back to friendly territory.
“…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