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Abstract

African Americans have volunteered to participate in every war or conflict in which the United States has been engaged. This is true despite their ancestors having been slaves for 244 years of America's history.

From the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War, African Americans have demanded the right to serve their country in the armed services and, in several instances, they have made the difference between victory or defeat for American troops. Throughout this history, African Americans were ever cognizant of the dual freedoms—their own personal freedom as well as the nation's—for which they so bravely fought and gave their lives. They long held onto the hope that they would be granted the full rights of citizenship if they proved their loyalty to their country in war.

Indeed, in addition to fighting the enemies of America, African Americans in the armed services have simultaneously battled their own "second-class station" within the ranks of the military. In this battle they have seen numerous victories, including President Truman's Executive Order No. 9981. Issued in 1948, this pivotal order created the President's Committee on Equal Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services in addition to the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), which were intended to eliminate racial discrimination in the armed services and in federal employment.

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