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Archive for '- Presidents'

The Ike Jacket

Today’s post comes from Timothy Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. In honor of Veterans Day and those who have worn a uniform while serving their country, here’s the story behind the famous jacket now on display in our exhibit “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures.”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower considered the Army’s World War II military uniform to be restricting and poorly suited for combat. Instead he had a standard issue wool field jacket tailored to be “very short, very comfortable, and very natty looking.” The resulting “Eisenhower jacket” or “Ike jacket,” as it came to be known, was standard issue to American troops after November 1944. This “Ike jacket” was worn by Eisenhower.

One of General Eisenhower's jackets is currently on display in the "Making Their Mark" exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

One of General Eisenhower’s jackets is currently on display in the “Making Their Mark” exhibit at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

Ike urged theater-wide adoption of the shorter jacket in a May 5, 1943, letter to General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff:

I have no doubt that you have been impressed by the virtual impossibility of appearing neat and snappy in our field uniform. Given a uniform which tends to look a bit tough, and the natural proclivities of the American soldier quickly create a general impression of a disorderly mob. From this standpoint alone, the matter is bad enough; but

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Rita Moreno, first Hispanic actress to win the Academy Award

Concluding our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

English Version: 

Rita Moreno has inspired many people throughout her celebrated career as an actress and stage performer. As the first Hispanic actress to win an Academy Award in 1961, she opened the door for hopeful Latinos in the entertainment industry. Moreno is also one of a select group of performers to have won all four of the most prestigious show business awards, two Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. This is known as the EGOT.

Her films include some of the most influential and popular musicals Hollywood has ever produced, including West Side Story (1961), Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The King and I (1954). In 1955 Moreno received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She has earned two of America’s highest honors the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush in 2004 and the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama in 2009 for her wide-ranging body of work and success in the entertainment industry.

President George W. Bush with Medal of Freedom recipient Rita Moreno.  (National Archives Identifier: 7431430)

President George W. Bush with Medal of Freedom recipient Rita Moreno.
(National Archives Identifier: 7431430)

Born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, she moved with her mother to New York when she was six years old. At age 13 … [ Read all ]

President Nixon and the Hispanic Strategy

Continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

English Version: President Nixon and the Hispanic strategy during his re-election campaign

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972. (National Archives Identifier: 194436)

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972.
(National Archives Identifier: 194436)

The United States of America is witnessing a growing Latin American voting demographic, and many might be surprised to learn that the first “Latino” President was, in fact, Richard Nixon. In 1969, his first year in office, he established the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish Speaking People.

Throughout his Presidency, he appointed more Latinos than any preceding President, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He remained unsurpassed in those numbers until Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990’s.

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973. (National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973.
(National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

Over four decades ago, Hispanics in the United States found themselves exercising more power in a Presidential campaign that at any other time in American history.

Seeking re-election, President Nixon reached out to the Latino community by discussing his strategy for funding education, health, small businesses and other programs in Latin American communities in areas like Texas, California, and in the Southwest. Some called it the Nixon Hispanic Strategy.

Nixon received 40 percent … [ Read all ]

Fidel Castro’s childhood plea to President Roosevelt

Continuing our celebration of Natinal Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

Did you know that Fidel Castro, when he was just 14 years old, wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II?

How many of us, at such a young age, have written a letter to our President or any other country’s president?

During the years that President Roosevelt was in office, he received thousands of letters in which people from all around the world wished him luck, congratulated him on his reelection, asked him questions, made requests, and shared their concerns, suggestions, and criticisms.

Over 74 years ago, on November 6, 1940, even the future leader of the Cuban revolution sent a letter to the President of the United States. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz grew up to become one of the most famous figures of the 20th century. But as a child, he had a simpler request for the leader of his country’s neighbor to the north.

The young Fidel opens his letter with “My good friend Roosevelt” and asks the President to “give me a ten dollars bill green american” since he had not seen one. In a postscript, he even offers his help with the industrial sector by indicating that he can show the President … [ Read all ]

Rudy Martinez: The Beginning of the Latino Impact in World War II

Continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, today’s post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the Office of Strategy and Communications at the National Archives. To find out more about our Bilingual Social Media Project.

In English:

On December 7, 1941, the date that President Franklin D. Roosevelt said would “live in infamy,” the Imperial Japanese navy launched a surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pear Harbor, Hawaii.

Rudy (Rudolph M.) Martinez was a young sailor who had just left his family in San Diego to begin his duties as a sailor in the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor. On the morning of the attack, the 21-year-old Navy electrician mate 3rd class was aboard the USS Utah when the battleship was hit by two Japanese torpedoes.

Photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt Signing the Declaration of War against Japan, 12/08/1941 National Archives Identifier: 520053

Photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt Signing the Declaration of War against Japan, 12/08/1941
National Archives Identifier: 520053

A Mexican American, Martinez officially became the first Hispanic to be killed in World War II. His final letter written home asked for a photo of his mother. Martinez’s death marked the beginning of the surge of Latino military service in World War II.

About half a million Latinos served during World War II. Gen. Douglas MacArthur called the Arizona National Guard’s 158th Infantry Regiment, known as “Bushmasters,” “one of the greatest fighting combat teams … [ Read all ]