(The Root) — Today, June 27, the first African-American Marines, known as the Montford Point Marines, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
Admitted to the Marine Corps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all branches of the armed forces to accept blacks, the group endured untold hardships as they trained in the segregated North Carolina facility.
"The Montford Point Marines are finally receiving the recognition they deserve," Sen. Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.), who led the bipartisan effort to pass the measure, told The Root when it was approved last year. "These men, who were based out of North Carolina in World War II, served our country with courage and dedication, even in the face of discrimination and intolerance. There is no better way to celebrate the Marine Corps' birthday and Veterans Day than by honoring these men for their service and sacrifice and granting them the recognition that is 50 years overdue."
Montford Point Marine representative William McDowell will accept the medal, which is the highest civilian honor awarded as the utmost expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contribution.