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Legacy of Equality

The Tuskegee Airmen proved themselves equal to white fliers and support troops, but black Airmen remained segregated after the war. However, they had made it obvious to many leaders, President Harry S. Truman in particular, that segregation in the military was morally wrong, inefficient and should be ended. Stating that the "highest standards of democracy" were essential in the armed services, President Truman's Executive Order 9981, of July 26, 1948, directed that

"...there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin."

When the U.S. Air Force became a separate service in 1947, it benefited directly from the experience of the Tuskegee Airmen. The USAF was the first service to erase the color line, thanks largely to the pioneering efforts and courageous legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. In April 2006, the U.S. Congress voted to award the Tuskegee Airmen a Congressional Gold Medal, the most prestigious award Congress can give to civilians.

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