National Freedom Day, February 1, 1865, was the day President Lincoln signed a joint agreement to ratify the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution, abolishing slavery. The amendment was officially a part of the constitution in December of the same year.
On June 30, 1984, President Truman signed National Freedom Day into law. Richard Robert Wright Sr. was a former slave who worked with local and national leaders to honor February 1st as a day of recognition and celebration of freedom for many of his fellow freed slaves.
Through this act a large majority of the U.S. population celebrated their freedom, and that sense of freedom still rings true today. With the freedom acquired many African-Americans were able to create fruitful, notable, and very admirable military careers. Leading the way for future generations to be inspired and proud to fight for their country.
Notable Servicemen and Women
Medal of Honor Recipients
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award that can be awarded to someone in the Armed Forces. Being awarded the Medal of Honor comes far and few in between but when someone demonstrates courage, bravery, and selflessness in the face of danger when the stakes are high, and these brave men have done just that, earning their place in American military history.
- Corporal Freddie Stowers: On September 28, 1918, Stowers led an attack at Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France. He was the serving squad leader of Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division.
- First Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker: During WWII, Baker aided in destroying enemy installations, personnel and equipment during his company’s attack against the enemy in the mountainous terrain in Viareggio, Italy.
- Private First Class Milton Olive III: Olive saved the lives of four other soldiers during the Vietnam War by using his body to cover a grenade.
A Lifetime of Firsts
- First Black General: General Daniel James Jr. was the first African American to become a general and achieve four stars. He was commander of the North American Air Defense Command.
- The Army’s First Black Four-Star General: General Roscoe Robinson Jr. graduated from West Point, and was a four-star general in the Army for two wars.
- Top Ranking Black Female Officer: Harriet M. Waddy was one of two of the highest ranking black officers during WWII, serving in the U.S. military despite strong segregation laws.
- First Black Female Commander: Colonel Adele H. Hodges was the first woman to command Camp Lejeune on the coast of North Carolina. There she oversaw 47,000 Marines and sailors and improved infrastructure and enhanced security on base.
Celebrating National Freedom Day is a great way to honor those who have, and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Honoring and remembering the brave men and women that have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.