Cold War

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“Nov 11 Becomes Veterans’ Day,” New York Times, May 25, 1954

Signing of HR7786, June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. U.S. Army Center for Military History

Beginning in 1919, November 11 was celebrated as Armistice Day, to mark the end of World War I, which took place the year prior at 11:11am. It became a national holiday in 1938 and in 1954, under President Dwight Eisenhower, it was officially renamed Veterans’ Day. As mentioned in the news clipping, the holiday was now meant to celebrate veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. This clipping demonstrated Senate approval of and the national significance of veterans and their place in American culture, even if the government was not or had not been in a place to provide for them in way they should or should have. The short length of the clipping, however, does denote the little attention paid to veterans at this time as the U.S. was engulfed in the Cold War and was at the height of the Red Scare. In later conflicts, the celebration of Veterans’ Day would become more important and even more politicized, especially during the Vietnam War, as it was a day to protest the war, as done by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, or to protest the war’s protesters.


Amzie Moore Letter to the Veterans’ Administration (1961)

Moore’s 1961 letter to the Veterans’ Administration details his request to raise the government’s help with his loan payments. The letter mentions that his work hours were cut speculatively due to his involvement in African-American voter registration efforts in his hometown of Cleveland, Mississippi. Despite this, he still had loan payments to make on his house. This letter is a comment on the fact that even though the G.I. Bill was not means or ability tested, there existed racial bias in the administration. Technically, anyone who served long enough was eligible for benefits, but the local administration of these benefits meant African Americans were largely excluded, especially in the South. This letter also comments on the type of work available to African Americans at the time, despite Moore’s status as a veteran of World War II. Just like his fellow white servicemen, Moore simply wanted to maintain his life and home, a feat he was unable to meet due to his race and circumstances.