Saturday, June 5, 2010

National Archives Opens Military Records

The Archivist of the United States (AOTUS) has a delightful blog , and on this weekend run-up to the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion he has posted about the new National Personnel Records Center:

The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis is the nation’s depository for military personnel records. Within these records are the files of “Persons of Exceptional Prominence” including: Spiro Agnew, Desi Arnaz, Beatrice Arthur, Joe Louis, Humphrey Bogart, John William Coltrane, John Foster Dulles, Marvin Gaye, Theodore S. Geisel (AKA “Dr. Seuss”), Charles A. Lindbergh, Glenn Miller, Edward Murrow, Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, and Jackie Robinson.

Beatrice Arthur, as in Bea Arthur? That was news to me, but it turns out she was a medical technologist when the U.S. entered World War II, and became one of the first female volunteers for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The National Archives are opening the service records of many famous or otherwise prominent Americans to the public, so you can now see Bea Arthur's DD-214 for yourself, along with records for Omar Bradley and Eddie Slovik, Jack Kerouac and Jimi Hendrix, Jack Webb and William Randolph Hearst, Joseph P. Kennedy and Prescott S. Bush, Steve McQueen and Hugo Black, Grace Hooper and Harry Truman, Rocky Marciano and Margaret Chase Smith, and on and on.

Thinking about that last pairing - Rocky Marciano and Margaret Chase Smith - confirms something I have long believed. Which is that, if ever there was a melting pot in American society, it was in the institution of the U.S. military.

No comments: