SPRINGFIELD — Museums often pay special attention to the local, cultural contributions of African-Americans during Black History Month. But the story of people of color in the Korean War has a permanent, marquee place in the story: it was the first war to be fought with an integrated military.
President Harry Truman signed the order to integrate the Armed Forces. Though it would be several years before all branches and units had people of African and European descent fighting next to each other on the front lines, several units took it upon themselves early in the Korean War to make it happen.
“You can see people posing in these pictures together: their body language tells you that there were friendships here,” notes Thomas Kenny, Museum Assistant at the NKWM.
Though the display will come down mid-Spring, the museum plans to restore the exhibit on integration in the Korean War next February for Black History Month. they hope to have additional stories of people of color to include as part of the exhibit and are seeking the names of people willing to be interviewed for oral histories or to donate artifacts.
For more information on the events and exhibits at the Korean War National Museum- and how to donate to the exhibit, visit their web site: http://www.kwnm.org