This Day in History: 06/22/1944 - FDR signs G.I. Bill

This Day in History: 06/22/1944 - FDR signs G.I. Bill

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In this clip from This Day In History, June 22nd, we get to learn about how president Roosevelt passed the G.I. Learn how the government wanted to thank our soldiers with this bill. Houses were built for them and much more. The nation embarked on a 30 year economic boom. See it all here in this interesting video on the bill.

This Week in Roosevelt History: May 22-31

May 27, 1935: The Supreme Court declares the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional.

Excerpts from a press conference on the restructuring of the NRA, pg1 Excerpts from a press conference on the restructuring of the NRA, pg2 Excerpts from a press conference on the restructuring of the NRA, pg3
  • On May 28, 1934 FDR reviewed the fleet off the entrance to the New York harbor while aboard the USS Indianapolis. The fleet consisted of 81 warships, a naval line that stretched for 12 miles, which took 90 minutes to pass.
  • On May 28, 1942 FDR sent greetings to Yank on the publication of its first issue. Yank was an army weekly magazine whose editorial staff consisted entirely of enlisted men.
  • On May 27, 1943, FDR issued an executive order establishing the Office of War Mobilization.


On June 22, 1944, the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, was signed into law. Professor Edwin Amenta states:

Veterans benefits were a bargain for conservatives who feared increasingly high taxation and the extension of New Deal national government agencies. Veterans benefits would go to a small group without long-term implications for others, and programs would be administered by the VA, diverting power from New Deal bureaucracies. Such benefits were likely to hamper New Dealers in their attempts to win a postwar battle over a permanent system of social policy for everyone. [12]

During the war, politicians wanted to avoid the postwar confusion about veterans' benefits that became a political football in the 1920s and 1930s. [13] [14] Veterans' organizations that had formed after the First World War had millions of members they mobilized support in Congress for a bill that provided benefits only to veterans of military service, including men and women. Ortiz says their efforts "entrenched the VFW and the Legion as the twin pillars of the American veterans' lobby for decades." [15] [16]

Harry W. Colmery, Republican National Committee chairman and a former National Commander of the American Legion, is credited with writing the first draft of the G.I. Bill. [17] [18] He reportedly jotted down his ideas on stationery and a napkin at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. [18] A group of 8 from the Salem, Illinois American Legion have also been credited with recording their ideas for veteran benefits on napkins and paper. The group included Omar J. McMackin, Earl W. Merrit, Dr. Leonard W. Esper, George H. Bauer, William R. McCauley, James P. Ringley, A.L. Starshak and Illinois Governor, John Stelle who attended the signing ceremony with President Roosevelt. [19]

U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland, (D) AZ, and National Commander of the American Legion Warren Atherton, (R) CA were actively involved in the bill's passage and are known the "fathers of the G.I. Bill." One might then term Edith Nourse Rogers, (R) MA, who helped write and who co-sponsored the legislation, as the "mother of the G.I. Bill". As with Colmery, her contribution to writing and passing this legislation has been obscured by time. [20]

The bill that President Roosevelt initially proposed had a means test—only poor veterans would get one year of funding only top-scorers on a written exam would get four years of paid college. The American Legion proposal provided full benefits for all veterans, including women and minorities, regardless of their wealth.

An important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen, with more favorable terms for new construction compared to existing housing. [21] This encouraged millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes. [22]

Another provision was known as the 52–20 clause for unemployment. Unemployed war veterans would receive $20 once a week for 52 weeks for up to one year while they were looking for work. Less than 20 percent of the money set aside for the 52–20 Club was distributed. Rather, most returning servicemen quickly found jobs or pursued higher education.

The recipients did not pay any income tax on the GI benefits, since they were not considered earned income. [23]

The original G.I. Bill ended in 1956. [24] A variety of benefits have been available to military veterans since the original bill, and these benefits packages are commonly referred to as updates to the G.I. Bill.

After World War II Edit

A greater percentage of Vietnam veterans used G.I. Bill education benefits (72 percent) [25] than World War II veterans (49 percent) [26] or Korean War veterans (43 percent). [25]

Canada Edit

Canada operated a similar program for its World War II veterans, with a similarly beneficial economic impact. [27]

Racial discrimination Edit

African American veterans benefited less than others from the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill aimed to help American World War II veterans adjust to civilian life by providing them with benefits including low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans and financial support. African Americans did not benefit nearly as much as White Americans. Historian Ira Katznelson argues that "the law was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow". [28] In the New York and northern New Jersey suburbs 67,000 mortgages were insured by the G.I. Bill, but fewer than 100 were taken out by non-whites. [29] [30]

Additionally, banks and mortgage agencies refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks. [31] Once they returned from the war, blacks faced discrimination and poverty, which represented a barrier to harnessing the mortgage and educational benefits of the G.I. Bill, because labor and income were immediately needed at home.

Most southern university principals refused to admit blacks until the Civil Rights revolution. Segregation was legally mandated in that region. Colleges accepting blacks in the South initially numbered 100. Those institutions were of lower quality, with 28 of them classified as sub-baccalaureate. Only seven states offered post-baccalaureate training, while no accredited engineering or doctoral programs were available for blacks. These institutions were all smaller than white or nonsegregated universities, often facing a lack of resources. [32]

By 1946, only one fifth of the 100,000 blacks who had applied for educational benefits had been registered in college. [31] Furthermore, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) came under increased pressure as rising enrollments and strained resources forced them to turn away an estimated 20,000 veterans. HBCUs were already the poorest colleges. HBCU resources were stretched even thinner when veterans' demands necessitated an expansion in the curriculum beyond the traditional "preach and teach" course of study. [31]

Though blacks encountered many obstacles in their pursuit of G.I. benefits, the bill greatly expanded the population of African Americans attending college and graduate school. In 1940, enrollment at Black colleges was 1.08% of total U.S. college enrollment. By 1950 it had increased to 3.6%. However, these gains were limited almost exclusively to Northern states, and the educational and economic gap between white and black nationally widened under the effects of the G.I. Bill. [33] With 79 percent of the black population living in southern states, educational gains were limited to a small part of black America. [31]

Merchant marine Edit

Congress did not include the merchant marine veterans in the original G.I. Bill, even though they were considered military personnel in times of war in accordance with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. As President Roosevelt (Democrat) signed the G.I. Bill in June 1944 he said, "I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country." Now that the youngest World War II veterans are in their 90s, efforts have been made to recognize the merchant mariners' contributions by giving some benefits to the remaining survivors. In 2007, three different bills to address this issue were introduced in Congress, of which one only passed in the House of Representatives. [34] The Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007 establishes Merchant Mariner equality compensation payments by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of a monthly benefit of $1,000 to each individual who, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946, was a documented member of the U.S. Merchant Marine (including Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service). This bill was introduced to the House by Rep. Bob Filner (D-California) in 2007 and passed the House but not the Senate so did not become law. [35] Another attempt to notice Merchant Marines in the G.I. Bill was the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights Act of 2007, introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton, Entitles basic educational assistance to Armed Forces or reserves who, after September 11, 2001: (1) are deployed overseas or (2) serve for an aggregate of at least two years or, before such period, are discharged due to a service-connected disability, hardship, or certain medical conditions. Entitles such individuals to 36 months of educational assistance. [36] Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida) got the house to pass easier access to the GI Bill by "verifying honorable service as a coast-wise merchant seaman between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, for purposes of eligibility for veterans' benefits under the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977." It passed the House and went no further. [37]

Colleges that target veterans Edit

After the GI Bill was instituted in the 1940s, a number of "fly-by-night" vocational schools were created. Some of these for-profit colleges still target veterans, who are excluded from the 90-10 rule for federal funding. This loophole encourages for-profit colleges to target and aggressively recruit veterans and their families. [38] [39] [40] Legislative efforts to close the 90-10 loophole have failed. [41] [42]

According to the GI Bill Comparison Tool, the largest recipients of GI Bill Funds are

Lead generators like QuinStreet have also acted as third parties to recruit veterans for subprime colleges. [43] [44] [45]

All veteran education programs are found in law in Title 38 of the United States Code. Each specific program is found in its own Chapter in Title 38.

Unlike scholarship programs, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) requires a financial commitment from the service member. However, if the benefit is not used, the service member cannot recoup whatever money was paid into the system.

In some states, the National Guard does offer true scholarship benefits, regardless of past or current MGIB participation.

Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) Edit

In 1984, former Mississippi Democratic Congressman Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery revamped the G.I. Bill. [46] From 1984 until 2008, this version of the law was called "The Montgomery G.I. Bill". The Montgomery GI Bill — Active Duty (MGIB) stated that active duty members had to forfeit $100 per month for 12 months if they used the benefits, they received as of 2012 [update] $1564 monthly as a full-time student (tiered at lower rates for less-than-full-time) for a maximum of 36 months of education benefits. This benefit could be used for both degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training, and correspondence courses if the veteran was enrolled full-time. Part-time veteran students received less, but for a proportionately longer period. [47] This meant that for every month the veteran received benefits at the half-time, the veteran's benefits were only charged for 1/2 of a month. Veterans from the reserve had different eligibility requirements and different rules on receiving benefits (see Ch. 1606, Ch. 1607 and Ch. 33). MGIB could also be used while active, which only reimbursed the cost of tuition and fees. Each service has additional educational benefit programs for active duty members. Most delay using MGIB benefits until after separation, discharge or retirement. [ citation needed ]

"Buy-Up" option Edit

The "Buy-Up" option, also known as the "kicker", allows active duty members to forfeit up to $600 more toward their MGIB. For every dollar the service member contributes, the federal government contributes $8. Those who forfeit the maximum ($600) will receive, upon approval, an additional $150 per month for 36 months, or a total of $5400. This allows the veteran to receive $4,800 in additional funds ($5400 total minus the $600 contribution to receive it), but not until after leaving active duty. The additional contribution must be made while still on active duty. It is available for G.I. Bill recipients using either Ch. 30 or Ch. 1607, but cannot be extended beyond 36 months if a combination of G.I. Bill programs are used. [48]

Time limit/eligibility Edit

MGIB benefits may be used up to 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty. The 10-year period can be extended by the amount of time a service member was prevented from training during that period because of a disability or because he/she was held by a foreign government or power.

The 10-year period can also be extended if one reenters active duty for 90 days or more after becoming eligible. The extension ends 10 years from the date of separation from the later period. Periods of active duty of fewer than 90 days qualify for extensions only if one was separated for one of the following:

  • A service-connected disability
  • A medical condition existing before active duty
  • Hardship

For those eligible based on two years of active duty and four years in the Selected Reserve (also known as "call to service"), they have 10 years from their release from active duty, or 10 years from the completion of the four-year Selected Reserve obligation to use MGIB benefits.

At this time, service members cannot recoup any monies paid into the MGIB program should it not be utilized.

Top-up option Edit

Service members may use GI bill in conjunction with Military Tuition Assistance (MilTA) to help with payments above the MilTA CAP. This will reduce the total benefit available once the member leaves service. Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-377, January 4, 2011), Section 111, amended Title 38, U.S. Code, by adding section 3322(h), "Bar to Duplication of Eligibility Based on a Single Event or Period of Service," which does not allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish eligibility for a Service Member under more than one education benefit. If a service member applies for Montgomery GI Bill benefits (such as the Top-up option to augment Tuition Assistance) and entered service on/after August 1, 2011, then they must incur a subsequent period of service to convert to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If the service member cannot incur another period of service, they are not eligible to convert. The VA considers a service member has elected a GI Bill upon submission of VA Form 22-1990.and VA approval and issues a Certificate of Eligibility. [49]

Educational Edit

  • College, business
  • Technical or vocational courses
  • Correspondence courses
  • Apprenticeship/job training
  • Flight training (usually limited to 60% for Ch. 30, see Ch. 33 for more flight information)

Under this bill, benefits may be used to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at a college or university, a cooperative training program, or an accredited independent study program leading to a degree.

Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation Program) Edit

"Chapter 31" is a vocational rehabilitation program that serves eligible active duty servicemembers and veterans with service-connected disabilities. [50] This program promotes the development of suitable, gainful employment by providing vocational and personal adjustment counseling, training assistance, a monthly subsistence allowance during active training, and employment assistance after training. Independent living services may also be provided to advance vocational potential for eventual job seekers, or to enhance the independence of eligible participants who are presently unable to work.

In order to receive an evaluation for Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation and/or independent living services, those qualifying as a "servicemember" must have a memorandum service-connected disability rating of 20% or greater and apply for vocational rehabilitation services. [51] Those qualifying as "veterans" must have received, or eventually receive, an honorable or other-than-dishonorable discharge, have a VA service-connected disability rating of 10% or more, and apply for services. Law provides for a 12-year basic period of eligibility in which services may be used, which begins on latter of separation from active military duty or the date the veteran was first notified of a service-connected disability rating. In general, participants have 48 months of program entitlement to complete an individual vocational rehabilitation plan. Participants deemed to have a "serious employment handicap" will generally be granted exemption from the 12-year eligibility period and may receive additional months of entitlement as necessary to complete approved plans.

Chapter 32 (Veterans Educational Assistance Program) Edit

The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is available for those who first entered active duty between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985, and elected to make contributions from their military pay to participate in this education benefit program. Participants' contributions are matched on a $2 for $1 basis by the Government. [52] This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses.

Chapter 33 (Post-9/11) Edit

Congress, in the summer of 2008, approved an expansion of benefits beyond the current G.I. Bill program for military veterans serving since the September 11, 2001 attacks originally proposed by Democratic Senator Jim Webb. Beginning in August 2009, recipients became eligible for greatly expanded benefits, or the full cost of any public college in their state. The new bill also provides a housing allowance and $1,000 a year stipend for books, among other benefits. [53]

The VA announced in September 2008 that it would manage the new benefit itself instead of hiring an outside contractor after protests by veteran's organizations and the American Federation of Government Employees. Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake stated that although it was "unfortunate that we will not have the technical expertise from the private sector," the VA "can and will deliver the benefits program on time." [54]

President Obama Launches Post-9/11 GI Bill August 3, 2009 | 12:01

President Obama marks the launch of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which will provide comprehensive education benefits to our veterans. The bill will provide our veterans the skills and trainings they need to be successful in the future, and is part of the Presidents plan to build a new foundation for the 21st century. August 3, 2009. [55]

In December 2010 Congress passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010. The new law, often referred to as G.I. Bill 2.0, expands eligibility for members of the National Guard to include time served on Title 32 or in the full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR). It does not, however, cover members of the Coast Guard Reserve who have served under Title 14 orders performing duties comparable to those performed by National Guard personnel under Title 32 orders.

The new law also includes:

enrollment periods. In this case if the veteran is full-time, and his or her maximum BAH rate is $1500 per month, then he or she will receive (13/30)x$1500 = $650 for the end of the first period of enrollment, then the veteran will receive (10/30)x$1500 = $500 for the beginning of the second period of enrollment. Effectively, the change in break-pay means the veteran will receive $1150 per month for August instead of $1500 per month. This has a significant impact in December - January BAH payments since most Colleges have 2-4 week breaks.

Another change enables active-duty servicemembers and their G.I. Bill-eligible spouses to receive the annual $1,000 book stipend (pro-rated for their rate of pursuit), adds several vocational, certification and OJT options, and removes the state-by-state tuition caps for veterans enrolled at publicly funded colleges and universities.

Changes to Ch. 33 also includes a new $17,500 annual cap on tuition and fees coverage for veterans attending private colleges and foreign colleges and universities. [56]

Chapter 34 (Vietnam Era G.I. Bill) Edit

The Vietnam Era G.I. Bill provided educational assistance for service members serving on Active Duty for more than 180 days with any portion of that time falling between January 31, 1955 and January 1, 1977. To be eligible, service members must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. There was no service member contribution for this program like Chapter 30 or 32. This program was sunset on December 31, 1989. [57] [58]

Chapter 35 (Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program) Edit

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program delivers education and training advantages to dependents from eligible resources to veterans who have either have a terminal illness due to a service-related condition, or who were called to active duty or had a disability related to serving in the American forces in the United States. [59] That program gives around 50 months of education benefits. However, there are still more opportunities. The benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on the job training. Wives of veterans and former wives are offered free courses occasionally.

Chapter 1606 (Montgomery GI Bill- Selective Reserve) Edit

The Montgomery G.I. Bill — Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program may be available to members of the Selected Reserve, including all military branch reserve components as well as the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. This benefit may be used for degree and certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeship/on-the-job training and correspondence courses. [60]

Chapter 1607 (Reserve Educational Assistance Program) Edit

The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) was available to all reservists who, after September 11, 2001, complete 90 days or more of active duty service "in support of contingency operations." This benefit provided reservists return from active duty with up to 80% of the active duty (Chapter 30) G.I. Bill benefits as long as they remained active participants in the reserves. [61] Chapter 1607 was sunset on November 25th, 2019 to make way for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. [62]

Type Active Duty MGIB Chapter 30 Active Duty Chap 30 Top-up Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Chapter 33 Voc Rehab Chapter 31 VEAP Chapter 32 DEA Chapter 35 Selected Reserve Chapter 1606 Selected Reserve (REAP) Chapter 1607 Additional Benefits Tuition Assistance Additional Benefits Student Loan Repayment Program
Info link [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [65] [65] [68] [69] [70] [71] [65] [72]

While in the Selected Reserve. If separated from Ready Reserve for disability which was not result of willful misconduct, for 10 yrs after date of entitlement.

The State of California has an 85-15 rule that aims to prevent predatory for-profit colleges and "fly-by-night schools" from targeting veterans. [83]

In 2012, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13607 to ensure that military service members, veterans, and their families would not be aggressively targeted by sub-prime colleges. [84]

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a website for veterans to compare colleges that use the GI Bill, in order to use their educational benefits wisely. [85]

VA also has a GI Bill Feedback System for veterans to lodge their complaints about schools they are attending. [86]

The Trail

On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the GI bill to provide financial aid to veterans returning from World War II. Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt voiced his belief that ensuring veterans’ employability was critical to “a sound postwar economy.”

The “GI” bill, named after the slang term for soldiers whose wartime goods and services were “government issued,” provided funding for education, home loans, unemployment insurance, job counseling and the construction of veterans’ hospital facilities. It also greatly strengthened the authority of and scope of services provided by the Veterans Administration. Tuition for advanced education or technical training was covered up to $500 per school year, along with a monthly living allowance while the veteran was in school. GIs could also apply for guaranteed home and business loans.

In his speech at the signing of the bill, Roosevelt acknowledged the sacrifices of America’s men and women in uniform and emphasized the moral responsibility of the American people not to let their veterans down once they returned to civilian life. He and his economic advisors foresaw potential problems as the then-robust wartime economy transitioned to peacetime. He hoped that the GI bill would help prevent a situation in which the return of 2.2 million servicemen from war created massive unemployment, economic depression or social unrest. Also in his speech, Roosevelt appealed to Congress to enact some sort of future legislation that would reassure current civilian workers that their services would still be needed in a post-war economy.

Roosevelt urged that “the goal after the war should be the maximum utilization of our human and material resources.” After his death and the end of the Second World War, veterans of wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and U.N.-led coalition conflicts continued to benefit from an evolving GI bill.

1807 – British seamen board the USS Chesapeake, a provocation leading to the War of 1812.

1933 – Germany became a one political party country when Hitler banned parties other than the Nazis.

1940 – France and Germany signed an armistice at Compiegne, on terms dictated by the Nazis.

1942 – A Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.

1964 – The U.S. Supreme Court voted that Henry Miller’s book, “Tropic of Cancer”, could not be banned.

1969 – Judy Garland died from an accidental overdose of prescription sleeping aids. She was 47.

1977 – John N. Mitchell became the first former U.S. Attorney General to go to prison as he began serving a sentence for his role in the Watergate cover-up. He served 19 months.

Germany launches Operation Barbarossa–the invasion of Russia

On this day in 1941, over 3 million German troops invade Russia in three parallel offensives, in what is the most powerful invasion force in history. Nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces pour across a thousand-mile front as Hitler goes to war on a second front.

Despite the fact that Germany and Russia had signed a “pact” in 1939, each guaranteeing the other a specific region of influence without interference from the other, suspicion remained high. When the Soviet Union invaded Rumania in 1940, Hitler saw a threat to his Balkan oil supply. He immediately responded by moving two armored and 10 infantry divisions into Poland, posing a counterthreat to Russia. But what began as a defensive move turned into a plan for a German first-strike. Despite warnings from his advisers that Germany could not fight the war on two fronts (as Germany’s experience in World War I proved), Hitler became convinced that England was holding out against German assaults, refusing to surrender, because it had struck a secret deal with Russia. Fearing he would be “strangled” from the East and the West, he created, in December 1940, “Directive No. 21: Case Barbarossa”–the plan to invade and occupy the very nation he had actually asked to join the Axis only a!

On June 22, 1941, having postponed the invasion of Russia after Italy’s attack on Greece forced Hitler to bail out his struggling ally in order to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold in the Balkans, three German army groups struck Russia hard by surprise. The Russian army was larger than German intelligence had anticipated, but they were demobilized. Stalin had shrugged off warnings from his own advisers, even Winston Churchill himself, that a German attack was imminent. (Although Hitler had telegraphed his territorial designs on Russia as early as 1925–in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.) By the end of the first day of the invasion, the German air force had destroyed more than 1,000 Soviet aircraft. And despite the toughness of the Russian troops, and the number of tanks and other armaments at their disposal, the Red Army was disorganized, enabling the Germans to penetrate up to 300 miles into Russian territory within the next few days.

Mississippi History Timeline

1944: Construction of Mississippi River Basin Model begins in Clinton

One of the largest hydraulic models ever built, the Mississippi River Basin Model was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Waterways Experiment Station. Labor in the early phases of the project was provided by POWs from Camp Clinton.

February 29, 1944: U.S. forces launch campaign in Admiralty Islands near New Guinea

Image: Lieutenant W. O. Harrell, USNR, acquired this Japanese uniform jacket during the construction of a U.S. base after the islands were secured.

April 3, 1944: U.S. Supreme Court abolishes “white only” primaries in Smith v. Allwright

The white-only primaries were a means for the Texas Democratic Party to prevent non-whites from joining the party. The court found such practices were in violation of the constitutional rights of nonwhite voters.

May 30, 1944: Corporal James D. Slaton of Laurel awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for action on September 23, 1943

June 6, 1944: Allied forces invade Europe in Normandy, France

The successful invasion at Normandy, or “D-Day,” was the turning point in the war for the Allies.

Image: The MP40 submachine gun was used extensively by German forces throughout WWII.

June 13, 1944: U.S. forces land on Saipan in Mariana Islands

Image: This Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor was awarded posthumously to Marine Corporal William J. Doolittle, killed in action on Saipan.

June 22, 1944: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs G.I. Bill

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act helped veterans return to civilian life by providing education and training, loan guarantees, and employment assistance.

August 1944: Proposed Choctaw Constitution sent to Washington

August 6, 1944: First German POWs arrive at Camp Clinton

Camp Clinton was one of four POW camps in Mississippi. There were also 15 sub camps throughout the state.

October 2, 1944: First cotton crop produced without hand labor at Hopson Planting Company near Clarksdale

Machines had planted the cotton and chopped it, and eight International Harvester cotton pickers harvested the crop.

October 2, 1944: Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot of Edinburg awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for actions on May 23, 1944

October 19, 1944: Jackson Symphony Orchestra holds inaugural concert at Hotel Heidelberg

The orchestra was renamed the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in 1989.

October 23-26, 1944: Battle of Leyte Gulf fought near Philippines

Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history. The battleship USS Mississippi helped destroy a Japanese task force in the Suriago Strait during this battle, firing the last salvo in the last battleship vs. battleship engagement in history.

Image: The USS Mississippi was flying this flag during the battle of Suriago Strait, one of four engagements that compose the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

October 25, 1944: Captain Louis H. Wilson, Jr. of Brandon awarded Congressional Medal of Honor for action on July 25 and 26, 1944

December 4, 1944: Secretary of Interior establishes reservation for Choctaws

December 16, 1944: Battle of Bulge begins

The largest land battle in Europe involving U.S. troops, the Battle of the Bulge was fought in Belgium and Luxembourg when German forces mount a surprise offensive aimed at Antwerp.

Image: T4 George C. Sargent of Bentonia wore this uniform jacket during his World War II service. He participated in the battles for the Rhineland and central Europe, as well as in the Ardennes.

Today in military history: FDR signs the GI Bill into law

On June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill into law, providing a variety of benefits for returning World War II veterans, fondly known as GIs (short for “government issue” or “general issue”).

Designed by the American Legion, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 included education and housing expenses, low-cost mortgages and loans, and even one year of unemployment compensation. It was available to all veterans who had been active duty during the war for at least 90 days and had not received a dishonorable discharge.

Though it had its problems, the GI Bill transformed higher learning in the United States and drove an economic expansion that lasted well beyond the war. The GI Bill has evolved over the years and is still used today, serving over a million beneficiaries a year. The GI Bill benefit helps veterans — and their dependents — pay for college, graduate school, and training programs.

Honorably-discharged veterans who have served 90 days of aggregate duty after Sept. 10, 2001, or are still active duty military, are eligible for Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for 36 months. The benefits can be applied to tuition, fees, and other education-related expenses.

Featured Image: A student graduating from American Military University. (American Military University, Facebook)


This Week in Roosevelt History: June 22-30

June 22, 1944: FDR signs the G.I. Bill of Rights which offers educational assistance to veterans.

Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill.
June 22, 1944
FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 64-269.

  • On June 26, 1935 FDR issued the executive order establishing the National Youth Administration.
  • On June 30, 1938 FDR laid the cornerstone of the federal building at the New York World’s Fair in New York City.
  • On June 30, 1941 FDR dedicated the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY.

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FDR and the GI Bill

On July 28 th , 1943 President Franklin Roosevelt delivered a Fireside Chat to a nation immersed in the deadliest global war in human history that looked to the future. He was pleased to announce that the Italian dictator Mussolini had been arrested. He started his chat saying

Over a year and a half ago I said this to the Congress: “The militarists in Berlin, and Rome and Tokyo started this war, but the massed angered forces of common humanity will finish it. Today that prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled. The massed, angered forces of common humanity are on the march. They are going forward — on the Russian front, in the vast Pacific area, and into Europe — converging upon their ultimate objectives: Berlin and Tokyo.
I think the first crack in the Axis has come. The criminal, corrupt Fascist regime in Italy is going to pieces.”

But what makes this Fireside Chat so important is not the litany of Allied victories that FDR presents in detail. It is FDR’s vision of a post-war world, and the peace and economic opportunities to come. One of his top priorities is ensuring that the American men and women fighting overseas will be given every opportunity to succeed when they return. This is the first time he outlines his plan for what will become known as the GI Bill. He describes his vision this way:

Among many other things we are, today, laying plans for the return to civilian life of our gallant men and women in the armed services. They must not be demobilized into an environment of inflation and unemployment, to a place on a bread line, or on a corner selling apples. We must, this time, have plans ready — instead of waiting to do a hasty, inefficient, and ill-considered job at the last moment.

… The least to which they are entitled, it seems to me, is something like this:
First (1.) Mustering-out pay to every member of the armed forces and merchant marine when he or she is honorably discharged, mustering-out pay large enough in each case to cover a reasonable period of time between his discharge and the finding of a new job.
Secondly (2.) In case no job is found after diligent search, then unemployment insurance if the individual registers with the United States Employment Service.
Third (3.) An opportunity for members of the armed services to get further education or trade training at the cost of the government.
Fourth (4.) Allowance of credit to all members of the armed forces, under unemployment compensation and Federal old-age and survivors’ insurance, for their period of service. For these purposes they ought to (should) be treated as if they had continued their employment in private industry.
Fifth (5.) Improved and liberalized provisions for hospitalization, for rehabilitation, for (and) medical care of disabled members of the armed forces and the merchant marine.
And finally (6.), sufficient pensions for disabled members of the armed forces.

This is a truly remarkable goal that FDR sets out, but it is based on painful lessons learned after World War I when returning soldiers were promised a bonus pension to be available in 1945. But as the depression drove veterans to desperation, they demanded their bonus be paid early. The “Bonus Army” marched on Washington and set up makeshift camps in 1932. President Hoover responded by sending in the troops to burn their tents and drive them out. It was terrible treatment for the hungry men who had risked their lives and served their county faithfully.

FDR and the GI Bill of Rights

FDR signs the G.I. Bill in the Oval Office, with (l to r) Bennett “Champ” Clark, J. Hardin Peterson, John Rankin, Paul Cunningham, Edith N. Rogers, J.M. Sullivan, Walter George, John Stelle, Robert Wagner, (unknown), and Alben Barkley June 22, 1944. FDR Library Photo Collection, NPx 64-269.

June 22 marks the 68th anniversary of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights. Although World War II was far from over, FDR was determined to plan ahead for a smooth transition to peace, both abroad and at home. The President proposed to Congress a way to level the economic impact of the war’s end and to integrate returning veterans back into American society.

The result was the GI Bill. Now widely credited with creating the post-war middle class, the GI Bill of Rights provided returning veterans with educational benefits, work training, hiring preferences, and subsidized loans for buying homes, businesses and farms. It continues today to be one of the lasting legacies of the Roosevelt administration.

Draft of President Roosevelt’s statement upon signing the GI Bill into law

How the Democrat-Backed GI Bill Left a Million Black WWII Veterans Behind

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill on June 22, 1944. This legislation provided veterans returning from World War II with unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and funding for education.

By giving veterans financial help for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies, and equipment, the bill prompted a revolution in higher education. In 1939, 160,000 Americans graduated from college in 1950, nearly 500,000 Americans did so.

The bill also enabled millions of Americans to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, transforming suburbs. In short, the G.I. Bill became a major force driving an economic expansion in the United States that lasted 30 years after the war ended.

Here’s the bad news: more than a million African-American veterans were denied the bill’s benefits. These men risked their lives to serve our country, but they returned to a nation that was starkly divided on racial lines.

Many financial institutions refused to give mortgages and loans to black people. In 1947, only two of the more than 3,200 VA-guaranteed home loans in 13 Mississippi cities went to black borrowers. In New York and the northern New Jersey suburbs, fewer than one hundred of the 67,000 mortgages insured by the G.I. Bill supported home purchases by non-whites.

Northern universities were reluctant to admit black students, while many Southern colleges barred them entirely. The VA encouraged black veterans to apply for vocational training instead of university admission and arbitrarily refused educational benefits to some students.

According to historian Hilary Herbold, “The segregationist principles of almost every institution of higher learning effectively disbarred a huge proportion of black veterans from earning a college degree.”

Lest we think that such prejudice was confined to the post-World War II era, consider the example of billionaire Robert F. Smith, CEO, and chairman of Vista Equity Partners.

Last year, Smith announced that he would pay off the student debt of about 400 Morehouse College students. He states: “We have centuries of systemic racism and it has been playing out in the form of educational disparities, health care disparities, and economic disparities. . . . We’re really facing an urgent crisis around how we’re dealing with equitable justice.”

Smith, who is African-American, says he still faces racism today: “It affects every black person in America. I feel it today, and it’s disturbing.” He adds: “In spending time with my teenage children, talking about the effects of racism on them, the effects of racism that I still see when trying to raise capital . . . those dynamics, unfortunately, they have been embedded. This is the whole point of ‘systemic,’ [it’s] embedded into the psyche of Americans and the institutions of America. And those are the things we have to eradicate.”

Racism is sin. Denigrating a human being because of their race is a direct repudiation of God’s love for all people (Romans 5:8).

We are all created by the same Father (Genesis 1:27) and descended from the same parents (Genesis 3:20). As a result, we are all members of the same family. In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:28).

As protests sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd continue across our country, every Christian needs to ask God how we should stand against racism in all its forms. It is vital that we build significant personal relationships across racial lines and that we use our influence, resources, and gifts to share our Father’s inclusive love.

What can you do that only you can do?

Jim Denison is Resident Scholar for Ethics with Baylor Scott & White Health and the founder of Denison Forum, with a reach of 1.7 million.

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