July 8, 1918: Ernest Hemingway is Wounded in WWI

On this day in 1918, 18-year-old Ernest Hemingway was severely wounded while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver on the Italian front during WWI. Despite his own injury, he was able to save a nearby companion, an act for which he received the Italian Medal of Honor.

Hemingway recovered in Milan over the next several months before returning to the United States. He later incorporated his war experiences into his critically acclaimed 1929 novel, A Farewell to Arms.

Learn more about Ernest Hemingway’s life and works with American Masters’ “The American Novel" timeline.

Photo: Ernest Hemingway recuperates from wounds at ARC Hospital, Milan, Italy, September 1918. (Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston).

November 10, 1775: The U.S. Marine Corps Is Founded

On this day in 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps was founded. The birthplace of the Marines is tied to the Tun Tavern on Water Street in Philadelphia, which was used as a recruiting headquarters for the Revolutionary War in November of 1775. The Corps was later abolished at the war’s end, for economic reasons, and reestablished on July 11.

The Marine Corps celebrated its new birthday, or Marine Corps Day, on July 11 from 1799 until 1921. In 1921, the date was permanently changed to November 10 to commemorate the establishment of the Corps to aid in the Revolutionary War.

Enjoy more stories of service from across the country and from all branches of service with PBS Stories of Service

Photo: Couresy of USMC War Memorial Night by Catie Drew.

July 26, 1948: President Harry Truman Signs Executive Order 9981

On this day in 1948, President Truman issued an executive order abolishing racial segregation in all branches of the armed forces and establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. This major piece of legislation was a welcome victory for the African American soldiers’ “Double V” campaign, in which they fought both WWII abroad and racism at home.

Learn more about the importance of Truman’s order with a featured video from Tavis Smiley.

Photo: The Chicago Defender announces Executive Order 9981. Library of Congress Exhibition

June 22, 1944: FDR Signs GI Bill of Rights
On this day in 1944, just days after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill, into law. This legislation, enacted to prevent a postwar depression, provided veterans of World War II with financial assistance for hospitalization, housing, and education to aid their transition to civilian life.
Explore the Roosevelts’ lives with the site for Ken Burns’s upcoming film, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

Learn more about veterans with

Photo: FDR signs the GI Bill of Rights in the Oval Office, 1944.

July 14, 1918: Theodore Roosevelt’s Youngest Son, Quentin, Killed in WWI

On this day in 1918, 20-year-old Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy’s youngest son, was shot down by German planes while flying a mission in France during WWI.  Quentin was originally buried at the site of the plane crash, but after WWII, his remains were moved to the Normandy American Cemetery above Omaha Beach, next to those of his brother, General Ted Roosevelt, Jr.

Later, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote of his son in a tribute book that opened with the line, “Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die.”

Learn more about the entire Roosevelt family with preview videos from Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts.

Photo: Allies visiting Quentin Roosevelt’s Grave in France during WWI.

July 3, 1930: The Veterans Administration is Created

On this day in 1930, Congress passed a bill that created the Veterans Administration, authorizing the president to “consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans.” The bill known as Executive Order 5398 was later signed into law by President Herbert Hoover on July 21, 1930. Since its creation, the VA has been responsible for providing federal benefits to veterans and their dependents.

For more veteran resources and information, visit PBS Stories of Service.

Photo: President Herbert Hoover, General Hines and staff, following the signing of Executive Order creating the Veterans Administration July 21, 1930 (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs).


No entertainer made more trips to war torn Afghanistan and Iraq than Robin Williams.

See special footage from his tour and learn more about his kinship with soldiers on PIONEERS OF TELEVISION SPECIAL: Robin Williams Remembered tonight at 9/8c.


“No matter where we as a nation go next, the first people in will be the SEALs.”

Learn how the U.S. Navy SEALs morphed into the world’s most admired commandoes.

NAVY SEALS – THEIR UNTOLD STORY premieres Veterans Day, 11/11 at 9/8c on PBS.