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Integration Order

July 26 is the 50th anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s issuance of Executive Order 9981, which declared it “to be the policy of the president that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” It seems almost directly the result of 9981 that former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin L. Powell was in a position to provide the leadership necessary during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1992. In his autobiography, “My American Journey,” Gen. Powell, speaking of the effects of 9981, says: “I entered the Army only 10 years after that historic turning point,” and, “The Army was living the democratic ideal ahead of the rest of America.”

Sociologists Charles Moskos and John Butler have written about integration in the U.S. Army in “All That We Can Be.” They find that the present-day Army is “an organization unmatched in its level of racial integration” and “unmatched in its broad record of black achievement.” The 50th anniversary of Executive Order 9981 has very special significance for those of us who served with black troops in the segregated Army of WWII. And for America, it marks a significant step toward the American ideal “that all men are created equal.”

LEWIS B. McCAMMON

Alhambra

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