Senators Recognizing Importance of Diversity in the Military
United States Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), and Carl Levin (D-MI) today introduced a Senate resolution to recognize the 60th anniversary of the integration of the United States Armed Forces. The resolution commends African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and service members of all races and nationalities for their commitments to the U.S. Armed Forces in all conflicts in U.S. history, despite discrimination, hostility, and other obstacles.
"Troop integration was a landmark event for our nation, and I am proud to offer this resolution recognizing the critical role African Americans and military members of all races and nationalities have played in maintaining our nation's armed forces," said Senator Brown.
Melissa Wagoner, spokeswoman for Senator Kennedy, said, "Senator Kennedy is honored to join his colleagues in celebrating the 60th anniversary of President Truman's historic decision in 1948 to integrate the Armed Forces. Our all-volunteer military today is the finest in the world, because it draws from the vast melting pot of our society regardless of an individual's race, color, or national origin. Senator Kennedy commends all those who answer the call to serve our country. America is proud of each and every one of them."
"Sixty years ago, the integration of our Armed Forces served as a beacon of equality and opportunity for all Americans," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. "Our military would not be the dedicated and professional force that it is today without the diversity ensured by President Truman's historic executive order."
On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which mandated the racial integration of the Armed Forces. That order declared that there should be equal treatment and opportunity for all people serving in the Armed Forces, regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.
The U.S. Armed forces have led the way in social integration throughout the country's civil rights struggle. President Truman's racial integration order was put into place before the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which rejected separate white and black schools, and before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which banned discrimination in employment practices and public accommodations. President Truman's order was enacted before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which restored and protected voting rights, and the Civil Right Act of 1968 that banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.
The integration of the Armed Forces enhanced the combat effectiveness of the military 60 years ago. Today, members from a wide diversity of races and nationalities serve in senior leadership positions throughout the Armed Forces as commissioned and warrant offices, senior noncommissioned officers, and as civilian leaders.