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 title=President Harry Truman’s 126th birthday is, today, Saturday, May 8, 2010.

In honor of that, the author of today's edition of  “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama" is Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson to President Harry Truman, the Commander-in-Chief who ordered the desegregated of the military in 1948. It is an especially touching tribute to his grandfather, and the pride his family feels in having played a part in that historic, but not easy, watershed moment in the civil rights battle. Many fought back, including Army Chief of Staff General Omar Bradley, who argued that "mixing black and white soldiers would destroy the Army." He calls on President Obama to let his grandfather's example of courage guide him.

It's a beautiful letter, and was featured in yesterdays' USA Today. I invite you to read it after the fold.

Today's Letter: "It was not easy, he was told, it would destroy the Army."

Right: President Truman holding author Clifton Truman Daniel

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May 7, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

Tomorrow, my family and I will mark the 126th anniversary of my grandfather President Harry Truman’s birthday.  There are many reasons we celebrate his life and contributions to our nation, but in particular we are proud of his decision to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces in July 1948, which paved the way for future civil rights advancements.

It was not easy.  He faced fierce opposition from inside and outside the military.  Many, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Omar Bradley, argued that mixing black and white soldiers would destroy the Army.

My grandfather, however, was appalled that African-American service members had been beaten and lynched upon their return home from fighting in World War II. They had risked their lives to defend our nation, but were denied the full rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.  Implementation of his order to desegregate wasn’t easy, but it made our military stronger and our nation a brighter beacon of democracy.

There are strong parallels between the desegregation of the military and the debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that mandates the firing of a service member based solely on his or her sexual orientation.  Opponents argue that allowing openly gay and lesbian service members to serve alongside their heterosexual comrades will endanger discipline and morale.

While I have no idea where my grandfather would stand on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I do know that he admired service and sacrifice.  An estimated 66,000 gay and lesbian Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen are willingly risking their lives to defend our nation, despite being treated as second class citizens.

I would hope that my grandfather would want his openly gay great-granddaughter and others like her to have the opportunity to serve the country they love with dignity and integrity.

Mr. President, as you have said many times, including in your State of the Union Address earlier this year, ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the right thing to do.  This year is the right time to do it.

I commend you for your commitment and hope the example of my grandfather, Harry Truman, will help you lead with the same courage and conviction to ensure the "equality of treatment and opportunity for all who serve our nation’s defense.”

Respectfully,

Clifton Truman Daniel

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SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FROM HARRY S. TRUMAN,  courtesy of craigkg

Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don't ever apologize for anything. --Harry S. Truman

All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway. --Harry S. Truman

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. --Harry S. Truman

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. --Harry S. Truman

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To raise awareness to the need for Presidential leadership, The Servicemember's Legal Defense Network, has launched this media campaign launched in partnership with is intended to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Today's letter is a repost of yesterday's.

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Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.  The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.  By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes!  We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.

Participating blogs: 365 Gay, The Advocate, AfterElton, AmericaBlog , Ameriqueer, AKAWilliam, The Bilerico Project, BoxTurtleBulletin, BrandFabulousness, The Daily Kos, David In Manhattan, David Mixner, Fired Up Missouri, GoodAsYou, HRCBackStory, Kenneth In The 212, Lez Get Real, LGBTPOV, Michael in Norfolk, Mike Gets Real, Mile High Gay Guy, Open Left, Page One Q, Pam's House Blend, RepealNow, SayenCroWolf, Seattle PI Stepforward, Signorile's The Gist, The New Civil Rights Movement, The Queer Times, Towleroad, We Give A Damn.

WHY THIS IS A CRITICAL TIME:
SLDN and other coalition voices are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will markup the Defense Authorization bill in a few short weeks.
The Defense Authorization bill represents our best legislative vehicle to bringing repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.

LAYOUT FOR REPEAL / HOUSE AND SENATE TRACKS:
Sen. Mark Udall told the Denver Post the committee was “within a vote or two” of including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill.  Udall is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Jared Polis, who holds a key position on the House Rules Committee, told the Denver Post he is willing to help insert a similar provision in the House version of the Defense Authorization bill with the help of Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is the lead sponsor of the House repeal bill.

THE NEXT 30 DAYS ARE CRITICAL:
The House Armed Services Committee markup of the Defense Authorization bill is expected May 19.
The Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the Defense Authorization bill is expected the week of May 24.

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CALL TO ACTION!
Fate of repeal will be decided in the next 30 days. As time grows short, repeal advocates have multiple strategies are in place. One thing they all share is a need to hear from the public the time is now. Now is the time for LGBT allies to get off the fence and call for equality for their fellow Americans.

• Contact the White House: The Servicemember's Legal Defnese Network has put out an action item: Not Another Year. They are asking people to call the White House and tell our Commander in Chief to call for repeal in 2010, repeal can't wait until 2011. The moment is now. They say: "Our Congressional allies are not giving up. SLDN isn't giving up. Tell President Obama not to give up either. Call the White House today. (202) 456-1414"

• Contact your Senators: Tell them to support adding repeal to the Senate Defense Spending Budget: these Senators are most key: Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Robert Byrd and Scott Brown. But call them all. Show them there's a grassroots movement to vote now. SLDN contact tool here.

• Contact your House Representatives: Tell them to support Representative Patrick Murphy's plan to offer DADT repeal legislation as a floor amendment to the military bill. SLDN contact tool here.

• Contact Senate Armed Services Committee Chairmain Carl Levin (D-MI) and tell him Military Budget Attachment is the way to go. His office in Washington can be reached at: (202) 224-6221

• Become a citizen co-sponsor of repeal at Senator Udall's site.

Originally posted to Scott Wooledge on Sat May 08, 2010 at 09:54 AM PDT.

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