Evers was a World War II veteran who participated in the Normandy invasion. Born in Decatur, Mississippi, on July 2, 1925, Medgar Evers was the third of five children born to farmer and sawmill worker James Evers and his wife Jesse. Evers left high school at the age of 17 to enlist in the still-segregated U.S. Army, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant. In June 1944, Evers’ unit was part of the massive, post D-Day invasion of Europe, and he served in both France and Germany until his honorable discharge in 1946. Due to his wartime service, Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors following his death in 1963. (Author, Barbara Maranzani)
"As early as 1955, Evers activism made him the most visible civil rights leader in the state of Missisippi. As a result, he and his family were subjected to numerous threats and violent actions over the years, including a firebombing of their house in May 1963. At 12:40 a.m. on June 12, 1963, Evers was shot in the back in the driveway of his home in Jackson. He died less than a hour later at a nearby hospital. Evers was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and the NAACP posthumously awarded him their 1963 Spingarn Medal. The national outrage over Evers’ murder increased support for legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Immediately after Evers’ death, the NAACP appointed his brother Charles to his position. Charles Evers went on to become a major political figure in the state; in 1969, he was elected the mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, becoming the first African-American mayor of a racially mixed Southern town since the Reconstruction."