- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Black Marines from 1940s take Hill
Survivors from segregated units get gold medals
Sgt. Maj. William “Movin” Vann’s wife leaned over to adjust his white Marine’s hat, which had fallen back against the heavily cushioned wheelchair back.
Although he could not respond, she whispered in his ear as House Speaker John A. Boehner extolled the vigor and courage of Sgt. Maj. Vann and about 400 other Marines who received the Congressional Gold Medal this week. The once-burly Marine gazed absently back at Mr. Boehner. His helpless body, shrunk by exposure to Agent Orange, was weighed down by the medals decorating his dress blues, his weathered face broken by a vacant smile.
“It’s like the country has finally said, ‘You are a Marine,’ ” Mrs. Vann said.
Seventy years after the first black recruits were admitted into the Marines and began training at a segregated North Carolina facility, the men who went through Montford Point were awarded the highest civilian honor Congress can grant.
The surviving Marines arrived from as far away as the Virgin Islands to attend a ceremony Wednesday to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. They also sat through a military parade in their honor Thursday at the Marine Barracks Washington, helping each other to rise from their seats for the presentation of the colors in the sweltering heat, yet firmly saluting active-duty Marines who walked by.
Pfc. Charles E. Norman Jr. was one of more than 20,000 black Marines who trained at Montford Point, the segregated facility at Camp LeJeune, between 1942 and 1949. Drafted at age 18 in 1944, Mr. Norman was eager to go off to war, but had to serve as a Montford Point administrator while many of his friends entered combat in the Pacific Theater.
“I did not leave Montford Point at all, only for weekends,” he said. “But that was the hardest part, because there was segregation. I had to wait until they could find a seat for me on the bus.”
But even while he endured basic training that was often harsher than his white counterparts got, he did not complain.
“Even through segregation, we had rules to follow,” he said. “Follow them. And don’t become upset.”
This attitude is shared by the hundred of active-duty Marines, black and white, who attended the ceremony Wednesday, looking on as 1st Sgt. William McDowell accepted the medal on behalf of all Montford Point Marines.
After Sgt. McDowell received the medal, his next move on stage was greeted with a decades-old Marine tradition, based on the “Devil Dogs” nickname bestowed on them by their German adversaries in World War I.
“Woof, woof, woof,” barked his elderly comrades and their younger counterparts as he slowly walked up to the podium to speak on all behalf of all of them.
“This day, and that gold medal, that Congressional Gold Medal …” he trailed off, unable to speak, and received a standing ovation.
“I was so happy that they were hanging the medals around our necks. And then when they called my name, I raised both hands up. I was happy that it had happened,” he said. “I feel so much better now that things have worked out like they have.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Tom Fitton
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Richard Ivory, editor-in-chief of Hip Hop Republicans and HHR at Communities Digital News, turns his interests, and pen, to the people making news today.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow