GI Bill forum, exhibit debut to honor “the greatest legislation” at WWII Museum in New Orleans June 20
Original documents from FDR Library, National Archives to be showcased
The original cover and signature page of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill, will be showcased at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans beginning June 20 as part of an American Legion centennial exhibit.
The original documents, on loan from the National Archives, along with the typed and hand-edited speech given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after signing the historic GI Bill of Rights, on loan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, will be on display through Sept. 20, 2017. The exhibit will be in place at the museum until Dec. 18, 2017.
The bill, drafted and pushed to passage by The American Legion in 1943 and 1944, transformed the United States, building the middle class and democratizing higher education. The exhibit, titled “The Greatest Legislation,” features illustrated panels and touchscreen videos that tell the dramatic story of how The American Legion drafted the measure and overcame numerous challenges to get it to the president’s desk by June 22, 1944. It also showcases the impact of the program during the 20th century and its evolution to better serve veterans of the post 9/11 era.
“This is the first time the GI Bill has been shown outside of the National Archives,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “We are honored to share this and FDR’s speech – two original historic treasures – with the American people for this important exhibit.”
A free reception at the museum is planned at 5 p.m. June 20, followed by a moderated panel discussion led by American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV. Scheduled panelists include former U.S. Sen. James Webb, who introduced and championed the Post 9/11 GI Bill of 2008; VA Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Curt Coy; Student Veterans of America President and CEO Jared Lyon; and American Legion Assistant Director of Veterans Employment and Education John Kamin.
The panel discussion will include remarks from the Museum’s President Dr. Nick Mueller and American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones. The event will have a question-and-answer session where audience members will be invited to share the ways in which the GI Bill has influenced their lives and to discuss its future trajectory.
In addition to the cover and signature pages of the original act and Roosevelt’s speech the exhibit includes a fountain pen used by Roosevelt to sign the bill and additional original materials from The American Legion national headquarters.
Visitors planning to attend the June 20 event are asked to call in advance at 1-877-813-3329 extension 412.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.
The National Archives is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of the government, so people can discover, use and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the action of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives touch the lives of millions of people. The agency supports democracy, promotes civic education and facilitates historical understanding of the national experience. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records center and presidential libraries and online at www.archives.gov.
The American Legion, with a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 13,000 posts across the nation and around the world. To learn more about The American Legion, visit www.legion.org.
Student Veterans of America is the country’s premier organization for student veterans. SVA supports all veterans through their transition from the military, educational advancement, and career growth. SVA represents a network of 1,400 chapters on campuses in all 50 states and four countries representing over 600,000 student veterans at those colleges and universities. For more information, visit www.studentveterans.org.