In 2003 American senator Strom Thurmond passed away peacefully in his sleep. At 100 years old, the recently retired politician had been the House’s oldest active member, finally giving up his seat just six months before his death. But while large parts of America mourned his loss, they had no idea that Thurmond had taken a scandalous secret to his grave.
Thurmond was born in South Carolina in 1902 and grew up on the family farm in Edgefield. Graduating college with a horticultural degree, he toyed with a few careers before settling on law. He went on to become his hometown’s County Attorney, before being elected as a judge in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Thurmond served on the circuit for several years but resigned once America became involved in the Second World War. Despite being 39 when he signed up, the former judge took part in the decisive Normandy landings. And being in the Army must have suited him – by the time his service was over, he had collected a total of 18 awards, including a purple heart.