WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today commemorating the 60th anniversary of President Truman’s executive order integrating U.S. Armed Forces:
“Today, leaders of Congress gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to mark an important milestone on America’s journey toward full equality. Sixty years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which declared: ‘There shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.’ His order mandated the integration of the armed services—one of the earliest victories for the civil rights movement.
“Since the Revolutionary War, African-Americans have served in our armed forces with distinction. For generations, though, they served apart, segregated in the ranks and all too often relegated to menial duties. But after the Second World War, when we fought for freedom abroad while failing to fully honor it at home—and after the President was incensed by stories of black veterans who were victorious in Europe, only to be beaten on their return to America—segregation could no longer stand. Executive Order 9981 transformed the military from America’s largest practitioner of segregation to the leading edge of American equality. Today, our armed forces are one of our most successfully integrated institutions, drawing on the talents and courage of Americans of all races. We owe that achievement, in large part, to the vision and leadership of President Truman.”