- Parents outraged after white supremacists plant racist Easter eggs
- Atheists sue N.J. school over ‘under God’ in Pledge of Allegiance
- Obama hosting annual Easter Egg Roll
- Big Bang a big question for most Americans: Poll
- Jimmy Carter’s grandson: People have right to sport Confederate battle flag license plate
- Supreme Court issues no ruling on case challenging N.J. gun law
- Sharyl Attkisson: Media Matters ‘clearly targeted me’
- Sherpas consider boycott after Everest avalanche
- Democrat Rep. Stephen Lynch on Obamacare: ‘We will lose seats’ this November
- Syria to hold presidential election on June 3
Congress honors first unit of black Marines in WWII
4 veterans in House for vote
The nation’s first black Marines received a rare national tribute Tuesday as the House voted to award the Montford Point Marines with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress.
History books and Hollywood have chronicled the Army’s Buffalo Soldiers and the Army Air Corps’ Tuskegee Airmen, but the men who integrated the Marine Corps during World War II often have been forgotten. That is starting to change, beginning with the House’s 422-0 vote.
The black Marines received their basic training adjacent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where conditions were harsh and the treatment from their fellow Marines could be even harsher. The black Marines were not allowed to enter Camp Lejeune unless accompanied by a white officer. In the few times they participated in training exercises, they could not eat until the white Marines had finished. They were routinely passed over for promotions.
“People forget they were fighting two wars both foreign and domestic,” Rep. Sanford Bishop, Georgia Democrat, said.
More than 300 lawmakers were co-sponsors of the legislation, providing Republicans and Democrats with a rare moment of bipartisanship. Lawmakers from both parties spoke in favor of the resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown, Florida Democrat.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Marine Corps to accept blacks. It was the last military branch to do so.
Rep. Brad Miller, North Carolina Democrat, noted that the Montford Point Marines were presumed unsuited for combat and not allowed to fight alongside their white counterparts until the Korean War. Still, they underwent intense fire in their supporting roles in the Pacific during World War II, serving at Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
“They served with great valor and distinction and loved their country more than their country loved them at the time,” Mr. Miller said.
Rep. Walter Jones, North Carolina Republican, said he hoped that the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal would “soothe the pain of yesterday with the glory of today.”
About 19,000 men trained at Montford Point from 1942 to 1949. Most have since died. Eugene Groves, a staff sergeant who fought in Korea, was one of four Montford Point veterans on hand for the vote Tuesday. The lawmakers gave the four a standing ovation shortly before the vote.
Commandant Gen. James Amos has made it a priority to honor the group and ensure that their history is taught to all Marines.
Mr. Groves, who trained at Montford Point in 1946, said he appreciated the recognition. He served in the Korean War and said he felt for a time like the Marine Corps did not want to acknowledge his unit’s service.
“They did not want us involved in the history,” Mr. Groves said. “It’s been a hard fight.”
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- USAID documents cite Hillary Clinton in chaos of Afghan aid
- Jimmy Carter's grandson: People have right to sport Confederate battle flag license plate
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Twitter blocks accounts critical of Turkish government
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.