On this day in 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed what we now think of as the GI bill. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was created to assist veterans of World War II coming back without jobs, support, or education.
Rather than foment another Great Depression, former Republican National Committee chairman Harry W. Colmery drafted the bill. It was hotly debated in Congress, and finally passed when Representative John Gibson (D-Ga) made an overnight journey to Washington D.C. to break a tie.
Mike Opelka contended that the passage of the bill shaped America’s future on today’s “Pure Opelka.” By 1947, vets were 50% of college enrollees, and in 1950 half a million Americans graduated from college. The move toward greater education “helped elevate America,” he said.