The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, will welcome “The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Centennial Salute to the GI Bill” from May 4 through June 15. The multimedia traveling exhibit features illustrated panels, touch-screen video kiosks and rare artifacts that depict the crisis, drama, solution, effects and ongoing success of the GI Bill.
The American Legion Department of Iowa will host a welcoming reception on May 15 at 6:30 p.m. The reception will include remarks by David K. Rehbein, chairman of The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Observance Committee and a past national commander. Following his remarks, visitors will be offered the opportunity to share their GI Bill stories.
The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 was drafted by American Legion Past National Commander Harry W. Colmery in December 1943, at a time when medically disabled World War II GIs were coming home at a rate of about 75,000 per month. It was written to provide support to veterans in a difficult economic time. The long-term effect of the GI Bill is that it transformed the U.S. economy and culture for decades.
The GI Bill is often characterized as the most significant social legislation of the 20th century. It is credited for preventing an economic catastrophe after World War II, making home ownership a reasonable expectation for average Americans, educating millions of veterans and creating an incentive to serve in the military so valuable that the United States has operated as an all-volunteer force since 1973.
The traveling exhibit is part of The American Legion’s centennial celebration. It debuted at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and has since been on display at the Student Veterans of America national convention in San Antonio, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles, and the Montana Military Museum at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena.