Monday, Dec 19, 2005
On November 8, 2005 the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and the U.S. Postal Service teamed up to host a special Second Day-of-Issue Stamp Ceremony. The purpose of the ceremony was to recognize the special role played by the Tuskegee Airmen in contributing to the passage of Executive Order 9981, signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1948. This Executive Order officially ended segregation in the United States military. In 1945, Tuskegee Airmen stationed at Freeman Field, Indiana successfully staged a non-violent lunch counter sit-in to integrate the all-white Officers Club on the base. This struck an early victory for civil rights and became a forerunner of the many civil rights battles of the 1950's and 1960's.
On August 30, 2005 the U.S. Postal Service released its new Civil Rights stamp series. Included in this series was a stamp recognizing Executive Order 9981 and another commemorating the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. The spark for the boycott was, Rosa Parks, a Tuskegee native.
The November ceremony was seen as a long overdue acknowledgement of the battle fought and won on U.S. soil by Tuskegee Airmen who did not see combat overseas. The Postal Service theme, "To Form a More Perfect Union" served to "recognize the courageous achievements of the men and women who, during the early years of the Civil Rights movement struggled to make the ideals of our founding fathers closer to reality." Having the ceremony in Tuskegee symbolically served to reinforce these ideals.
A special book-signing of a newly published book, From Cubs to Hawks, which tells "The Story of the Aircraft, Airfields, and Training of the Tuskegee Airmen," followed the program. The author and a Tuskegee Airman wife, who wrote the foreward, signed books. Special cachets recognizing the Civil Rights Movement and the Tuskegee Airmen were also available from the Postal and Park Services. The stamp series was sold by the Postal Service. Tuskegee Airmen were also on hand to sign books and cachets.
Present for the ceremony were Tuskegee Airmen, state and local officials, Postal and Park Service representatives, local citizenry, and the media.