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Cut paper illustration by Lauren Fitzgerald

Harry Colmery

Birth – Dec. 11, 1890
Death—1979

Topeka attorney, author of the G.I. Bill, national commander of the American Legion

Harry Colmery had a vision – to thank those who gave military service.

The bill that forever changed the quality of life for many Americans, providing many returning World War II servicemen loans for homes, businesses and education was drafted in longhand on hotel stationary which Topekan Harry Colmery wrote in 1943 while staying at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

When Colmery drew up the first drafts of the bill, his key points were educational opportunities and loan guarantees for returning World War II servicemen and women.

And then, when he testified before Congress, he said “It is most important that we restore that opportunity to those who have sacrificed it on our behalf . . . (that) we protect them through the grave periods of both personal and national adjustment.”

Colmery served in the Army during World War I. He served as national commander of the American Legion from 1936 and 1937 – and received the American Legion Distinguished Service Award in 1975.

The Colmery-O’Neil Veterans Administration Medical Center in Topeka is named in part, for him.

Text by Beccy Tanner
Contributor, The Journal of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Cut paper illustration by Lauren Fitzgerald

 

See more Kansan portraits in this series.

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