WWII Museum

The Joint Armed Services Color Guard stand at attention while awaiting to present the colors at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Nov. 11, 2014. (Photo by SFC Chantell Black)

WASHINGTON — 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 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, are 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.”

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.

Watch the video below to see members of The American Legion preview the exhibit:


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