President Harry Truman’s Original 1950 Christmas and New Year’s Message to Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

As the Korean War heats up, he calls for Americans to support it, saying that the “events of the past year have made it clear” that there must be “determination to secure and maintain…peace,” so that “freedom and justice can be firmly established on earth.

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Sent to the national commander of the American Legion, as representative of the nation’s veterans, and never before offered for sale

On 25 June 1950, the young Cold War suddenly turned hot, bloody and expensive, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion as an act of...

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President Harry Truman’s Original 1950 Christmas and New Year’s Message to Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

As the Korean War heats up, he calls for Americans to support it, saying that the “events of the past year have made it clear” that there must be “determination to secure and maintain…peace,” so that “freedom and justice can be firmly established on earth.

Sent to the national commander of the American Legion, as representative of the nation’s veterans, and never before offered for sale

On 25 June 1950, the young Cold War suddenly turned hot, bloody and expensive, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion as an act of aggression, demanded the withdrawal of North Korean troops from the South, and called upon its members to aid South Korea. On June 27, President Truman authorized the use of American land, sea, and air forces in Korea; a week later, the United Nations placed the forces of 15 other member nations under U.S. command, and Truman appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur supreme commander. In the first weeks of the conflict the North Korean forces met little resistance and advanced rapidly. By September 10 they had driven the South Korean army and an American force to the Pusan area at the southeast tip of Korea. A counteroffensive began on September 15, when US/UN forces made a daring landing at Inchon on the west coast. North Korean forces fell back and MacArthur received orders to pursue them into North Korea. On October 19, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was captured; by November 24, North Korean forces were driven almost to the Yalu River, which marked their border with the People’s Republic of China. As MacArthur prepared for a final offensive, the Chinese joined the war and on November 26, with the North Koreans, launched a successful counterattack. The US/UN troops were forced back. Now it was clear that this would not be such a short and easy war after all, as the U.S. essentially faced off against China and its huge army. This is how matters stood at Christmas 1950.

President Calvin Coolidge issued the first official presidential Christmas message to the American people in 1927. Written on White House stationary, it was a response to requests for the President to send a holiday greeting. Presidents after him followed suit, with some presidents additionally issuing a few targeted messages to certain segments of the American population. For example, Herbert Hoover and and Franklin Roosevelt sent such messages specifically to disabled veterans. Truman issued his to all veterans.

This is Truman’s 1950 message to U.S. veterans, sent to the national commander of the American Legion as representative of the nation’s veterans. It was written at a perilous time for U.S. arms, when the deadly realization of war in Korea with all its sacrifices had sunk into the American people.

Typed message signed, on White House engraved letterhead, Washington, Christmas, 1950, “TO OUR VETERANS”, sent to the national commander of the American Legion as representative of the nation’s veterans (of which Truman himself was one), calling on Americans to support the war and thereby achieve peace through freedom and justice.

“In this joyous season, it gives me particular pleasure to send Christmas greetings to our veterans and their families everywhere. At Christmas, peace is uppermost in the minds of all Americans. I am convinced that events of the past year have made it clear that with faith to seek and determination to secure and maintain it, peace with freedom and justice can be firmly established on earth. With good wishes for 1951, Harry Truman”.  This is the most significant statement of Truman concerning the Korean War that we have ever had.

The Korean War lasted for three years and resulted in the division of Korea, and the military standoff, that still prevails.

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