Today is International Archives Day! Across the globe, our colleagues are working to preserve your history.

Here are two of our favorite images that show the importance of archives for everyday citizens.

Veterans

The 12th Armored Association met at the National Archives at St. Louis  for their 67th annual reunion in 2013. Veterans of this famed World War II division came to the National Personnel Records Center for a tour of the facilities. Preservation staff met with the vets and their families to explain the work being done to treat records damaged in the 1973 fire.

Preservation staff also explained how they treat records salvaged from the USS Arizona. Mike Pierce, in the white coat, explained the unique damage that occurred to the personnel records on board the Arizona as a result of the attack.

Image and text via the preservearchives.tumblr.com/ To order a military record, go to: http://go.usa.gov/jdBJ

Civil Rights

For many years, Edith Lee-Payne had no idea that her photograph was in the National Archives—or that she was one of the most iconic faces of the March on Washington.

In August of 2013, she saw her own face on display for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. “I’ve been in history all these years,” declared Edith Lee-Payne after seeing the photograph taken by Rowland Scherman.

You can learn more about her story in our blog (http://ow.ly/ogFwY) and in a video (ow.ly/odrhQ )

The GI Bill is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building now through July 14.

“With the signing of this bill a well-rounded program of special veterans’ benefits is nearly completed. It gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.” President Franklin Roosevelt’s Statement on Signing the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, June 22, 1944

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act into law on June 22, 1944, just days after the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Also known as the GI Bill of Rights, it offered World War II veterans grants and loans for college and vocational education, unemployment insurance, and low interest loans for housing. The bill had unanimously passed both chambers of Congress in the spring of 1944.
The act put higher education, job training, and home ownership within the reach of millions of World War II veterans. By 1951, nearly 8 million veterans had received educational and training benefits, and 2.4 million had received $13 billion in Federal loans for homes, farms, and businesses.
Image: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.

The GI Bill is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building now through July 14.

“With the signing of this bill a well-rounded program of special veterans’ benefits is nearly completed. It gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.” President Franklin Roosevelt’s Statement on Signing the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, June 22, 1944

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act into law on June 22, 1944, just days after the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Also known as the GI Bill of Rights, it offered World War II veterans grants and loans for college and vocational education, unemployment insurance, and low interest loans for housing. The bill had unanimously passed both chambers of Congress in the spring of 1944.

The act put higher education, job training, and home ownership within the reach of millions of World War II veterans. By 1951, nearly 8 million veterans had received educational and training benefits, and 2.4 million had received $13 billion in Federal loans for homes, farms, and businesses.

Image: The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (Public Law 78-346), approved July 22, 1944. National Archives, General Records of the United States Government.

These color photographs show the troops getting ready for the D-Day assault at an British port. Most of the color stills in the National Archives show the preparations rather than the invasion.

You can see more color photographs on the Media Matters blog.

Image:  111-C-1258, “These American troops have loaded their equipment onto an LCT and are waiting the signal for the assault against the Continent.”

Image: 111-SC-1237, “American troops at a British port descend into barges which will take them to troop ships from which they will launch the attack against Hitler’s Fortress Europe.”

Image: 111-SC-1248, “Medics and litter bearers going up the ramp of an LCT which will take them to France for the assault against Hitler’s Europe.”

Image: 111-SC-1232, “American troops at a British port descend into barges which will take them to troop ships from which they will launch the attack against Hitler’s Fortress Europe.  Note Barrage balloons in the background.”

Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, these images show the moments before and after the landing operations onto Omaha Beach.

Almost immediately after France fell to the Nazis in 1940, the Allies planned a cross-Channel assault on the German occupying forces, ultimately code-named Operation Overlord. By May 1944, 2,876,000 Allied troops were amassed in southern England. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, lay in wait, and more that 1,200 planes stood ready. Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed with Overlord.

As the attack began, Allied troops came against formidable obstacles; Germany had thousands of soldiers dug into bunkers, defended by artillery, mines, tangled barbed wire, machine guns, and other hazards to prevent landing craft from coming ashore. By the end of the day 155,000 Allied troops were ashore and in control of 80 square miles of the French coast but at a heavy cost of 4,900 casualties. 

To view more images and find out more information about D-Day visit our new online Google Cultural Institute exhibit “1944 D-Day and the Normandy Invasion”:  http://bit.ly/1m88DjY. Follow along with events around #DDay70.

Images: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (RG 111), General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1798-1947 (RG 80), and Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26).

Did you know that no one is sure what Eisenhower actually said on June 4 to launch the invasion?

Eyewitnesses to Ike’s historic decision could not agree on what he actually said. Was it “Well, we’ll go” or “All right, we move” or “OK, boys, we will go.”

Even Eisenhower himself was not consistent in his recollections of what he said. In a 1964 article for Paris Match, he recalled that he said: “We will attack tomorrow.”

Tim Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, tells the full story of the these lost words in Prologue magazine.

In this photograph, General Dwight D. Eisenhower talks with paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in Newbury, England, on June 5, 1944, prior to their departure to drop behind enemy lines as part of the D-Day invasion. The soldier with a “23” tag was a fellow Kansan, Lt. Wallace C. Strobel.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is hosting a special commemoration of D-Day. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with #DDay70.

The “D-Day + 70 Years” commemorative weekend will kick off on Friday, June 6, with a Remembrance Ceremony and rifle salute. There will also be tours with the Library staff and you can meet historical reenactors.

WWII-era military equipment and vehicles will be on display throughout the library grounds, including a Sherman tank, tank destroyer, half track, jeeps, and a motorcycle.

Saturday events will begin with the film “D-Day Plus 20 Years: Eisenhower returns to Normandy.” The afternoon features panel discussions sharing stories of those on the home front and on the battlefields. Award-winning biographer and historian Nigel Hamilton will also discuss this important anniversary.

A C-47 will fly over Saturday evening around 5 p.m. More than 1,000 C-47s dropped paratroopers behind enemy lines as part of Operation Overlord. The aircraft will be on view at the Abilene Municipal Airport.

The third annual Symphony at Sunset D-Day Commemoration Concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is a $5 minimum suggested donation. (There’s no charge for children ages 12 and under). The 1st Infantry Division Band will perform the opening act, followed at 8:30 p.m. with the headline performance by the Salina Symphony.

Image: D-Day equipment on display the Eisenhower Presidential Library via the @IkeLibrary instagram.

James Webb, former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat,” has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years and his love of country and service. 
Join us on Thursday, May 22, at noon in the William McGowan Theater. Enter the National Archives Building through the Special Events entrance at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue.
A book signing will follow the program.

James Webb, former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat,” has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years and his love of country and service.

Join us on Thursday, May 22, at noon in the William McGowan Theater. Enter the National Archives Building through the Special Events entrance at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue.

A book signing will follow the program.

Harry Ettlinger is one of six surviving “Monuments Men,” whose art-saving exploits were recently featured in the film of the same title. Ettlinger is in the black and white photo, too: he’s the a 19-year-old GI (right) who, as a native German speaker, had been assigned to the Monuments Men.

The black and white photo was taken in one of the salt mines where the Nazis hid their stolen art. Ettlinger is looking a self-portrait of Rembrandt—a painting that was from his hometown of Karlsruhe, Germany. Ettlinger had never seen it when he lived there as a child—Jews were forbidden to enter the museum.

Ettlinger, along with author Robert Edsel, was a guest at the National Archives this afternoon to mark the donation of Hitler album number 6 to the National Archives.

This album was used by the Nazis to keep track of the art they stole, and was taken by an American soldier as a souvenir when he went into Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. The soldier’s nephew inherited the album, but wasn’t aware of its significance until he met with Edsel, founder of the Monuments Men Foundation.

The National Archives also has custody of the 39 original albums discovered at the Castle of Neuschwanstein. The albums were used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials.

You can read more about the Monuments Men here: http://blogs.archives.gov/TextMessage/tag/monuments-men/

Join archivist Claire Kluskens for a genealogy lecture on “Artificial Limbs for Union Civil War Veterans, 1861-1927” Kluskens will discuss records created to help Civil War veterans obtain artificial limbs (all skill levels welcome). 
Saturday, March 15, at 10 a.m. in Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance). 
Image: Photograph of Union and Confederate Veterans Shaking Hands Across the Stone Wall at the 1938 “Blue and Gray Reunion” at Gettysburg, 1938 National Archives Identifier 4529731.  

Join archivist Claire Kluskens for a genealogy lecture on “Artificial Limbs for Union Civil War Veterans, 1861-1927” Kluskens will discuss records created to help Civil War veterans obtain artificial limbs (all skill levels welcome). 

Saturday, March 15, at 10 a.m. in Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance). 

Image: Photograph of Union and Confederate Veterans Shaking Hands Across the Stone Wall at the 1938 “Blue and Gray Reunion” at Gettysburg, 1938 National Archives Identifier 4529731.