75th Anniversary – GI Bill of Rights

June 28, 2019

Photo 1: (l-r) American Legion Post 128 Commander Harold Kocher, State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, and Illinois State American Legion Vice Commander Roy Weber.

Photo 2: 75th Anniversary celebration for the “G.I. Bill of Rights” attendees included Linda Johnson (Vice President of the Marion County Republican Women), Judy Shafer (Centralia American Legion Auxiliary member and County Board Member) and Beth Harrell (Salem Legion Auxiliary President). Hanging above their heads is the actual table where the eight Legionnaires sat and wrote down their ideas on dinner napkins.

The G.I. Bill of Rights (officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) was born in the Luther B. Easley Post No. 128 of the American Legion in Salem, Illinois on November 4, 1943. It was drafted by Omar J. McMackin (Salem), Earl W. Merritt (Salem), former Governor John Stelle (McLeansboro), Dr. Leonard W. Esper (Springfield), George H. Bauer (Effingham), William R. McCauley (Olney), James P. Ringley (Lemont), and A.L. Starshak (Chicago).

The eight men who sat around the table after a legion dinner in Salem on November 4, 1943, wrote down their ideas on napkins and those ideas (on napkins) were taken by former Illinois Governor John Stelle back to Washington, D.C. where the ideas were expanded on over several days at the Mayflower Hotel. Gov. Stelle was then made the head of the committee of people who would have the ideas drafted into legislation and would lobby to have that bill passed and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour and Illinois State Vice Commander Roy Weber were the guest speakers for the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the signing of the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the “G.I. Bill of Rights.”

The G.I. Bill was created by World War I veterans in order to help veterans of active service in the Armed Forces during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of veterans have used the G.I. Bill over the past 75 years to get home loans, small business loans, and financial assistance to finish high school and go to college.

Mark A. Decker | Senior Communications Analyst;
Illinois General Assembly | Office of the House Republican Leader
Cell (708) 256-8721
Email: mdecker@hrs.ilga.gov | Find us everywhere at ilhousegop.org