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Veterans' military records to be preserved

July 7, 2004 at 7:36 PM

WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- One election year drama may be avoided in the future: the public release of military records.

The National Archive on Thursday will begin creating a public archive of the military records of 56 million veterans who have served since 1885 -- presumably including current and future presidential candidates.

"This milestone event will ensure modern era military service veterans records are protected and ultimately made available for research at the National Archives and Records Administration," officials announced in a statement.

"Preserving the files for future generations is ... important so that family members, genealogists, biographers and historians can research the history of those who served."

The White House initially refused to publicly release the military records of President George W. Bush. They finally agreed in what's viewed as an attempt to lay to rest suggestions the president had not reported for duty at his Air National Guard post during the Vietnam war.

The Archives will make available at a ceremony the military records of Benedict Arnold, Humphrey Bogart, Jackie Robinson and Margaret Chase Smith.

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