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From The Grio:

On July 26th, 1948, President Harry S Truman issued Executive Order 9981, officially desegregating the military.

“Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense,” the order begins, “… It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

African-Americans had, of course, long served in the armed forces of the United States. Nearly 5,000 African-Americans served in the American Revolution, and during the Civil War, the proportion of African-Americans serving in the military reached all-time highs. But it is relatively recent that the proportion of African-Americans serving in the military has begun to match the proportion of African-Americans in society as a whole.

When government agencies talk about Civil Rights in their official histories, the struggle is often portrayed as a linear progression: race relations were bad once, but after a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, everything is now great.

This, of course, ignores the complexities of history and the reality of demographics. There are no simple conclusions to be drawn about how the United States has treated its veterans who happen to be ethnic minorities.

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