Air Force Veteran Morgan Freeman is today's Veteran of the Day.

On his 84th birthday, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Morgan Freeman, who served from 1955 to 1959 and became an award-winning actor.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1937, Morgan Freeman was the youngest of five children. His parents had left the South to find work in Chicago. Until the age of six, Freeman lived with his grandmother in Mississippi. After his parents separated, Freeman moved to Greenwood, Mississippi, with his mother. There Freeman frequently attended the local movie theater and became a fan of actors like Gary Cooper and Sidney Poitier. He frequently saw war movies, which inspired his interest in becoming a pilot. In school, Freeman acted in several school plays and competitions, often taking leading roles and winning awards.

After graduating high school in 1955, Freeman turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University to enlist in the Air Force. After basic training, Freeman worked as a radar technician for more than a year before training as a pilot. When he did start training to fly, he realized that it was not right for him and he could not remain in the military. He received an honorable discharge as an airman first class in 1959.

Upon leaving the military, Freeman renewed his interest in acting and moved to California. But despite taking acting classes, he found no work and eventually moved to New York. In 1967, Freeman’s big career break came when he landed a part in an all African-American Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!” starring Pearl Bailey. In 1971, he also began appearing regularly on “The Electric Company,” a public television-produced children’s TV show that taught kids to read. When the show ended in 1976, Freeman struggled to find roles in films. Instead, he continued to work in minimal roles on television shows.

Freeman’s luck changed in 1987 when he landed a role in the film “Street Smart” as the volatile pimp Fast Black. The role proved to be a huge success for Freeman, earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Two years later, Freeman earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and a second Oscar nomination for his role as the chauffeur in the 1989 film “Driving Miss Daisy.” He also starred in Edward Zwick’s critically acclaimed “Glory,” a drama about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first recognized African-American units in the Civil War.

In 1993, Freeman directed his first film, “Bopha!,” and soon formed his production company, Revelations Entertainment. He later appeared as the convict Red in the film “The Shawshank Redemption.” He starred in “Amistad,” “Nurse Betty” and “Dreamcatcher.” In 2005, Freeman received his first Oscar award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the film “Million Dollar Baby.” He also provided narration for films like “War of the Worlds” and “March of the Penguins.” In the 2010s, Freeman appeared in “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Oblivion,” “Last Vegas” and “Lucy.” In 2015, he played the Chief Justice of the United States on the television show “Madam Secretary,” for which he was an executive producer.

Thank you for your service!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

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It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Contributors

Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editor: Michaela Yesis

Fact checker: Brett Raffish

Graphic artist: Brett Blandford

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9 Comments

  1. Robin Scott Hurd June 2, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Mark’s gonna fall off his chair Asleep in a minute…
    Morgan, You Rock! Everyday! F*ck the Critics, Right?
    Glad you made it through the “Nam-Era” & “HollyWood”.
    If you EVER need a Driver, Call Me! I’m Free of Societies Dictates…(Retired SSI and 10%V.A.)
    Here’s the Punch-line Morgan…
    I’m 65 years old and gòt “Agent Orange” 2 years ago…so what difference, does Which Theater you got it in Matter?
    Irony 101
    Hemp Hurd

  2. Kevin Anderson June 2, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    I am more impressed with non famous Veterans.

  3. Wayne Strauss June 2, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Always enjoy your performances. I was a Sgt in the Air Force right after you. I waved, but I guess you didn’t notice. Sorry I missed you. Fly high, Mr. Freeman.

  4. Lawrence pate June 2, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    thank you for you service to our country..!

  5. Senior Veterans Care Network June 2, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you for your service Morgan Freeman.

  6. Mark Edward Honstein June 2, 2021 at 9:30 am

    A great man , and fellow airman, that I greatly admire. But the article leaves out one of my favorite roles of his and that is the role of The Almighty in Bruce Almighty & Evan Almighty. I can’t think of a better portrayal of a loving, creative, all-knowing, all-powerful, fun God than Morgan Freeman’s character in those movies and he played it masterfully. Thank you for your service Mr. Freeman!

  7. Elizabeth A Helm-Frazier, U S Army (RET) June 2, 2021 at 9:12 am

    Thank you for your service Mr. Freeman. What a great career you have had.

  8. Mark June 2, 2021 at 12:03 am

    Umm okay.

  9. Homer Demonbreun June 1, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    Never new that he served in the US Air Force. Good to know since I follow him and Retired Gen. Colin Powell on their speaking mannerism.

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