Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Well deserved, Semper fi

The Army's Buffalo Soldiers and the Air Force's Tuskegee Airmen, or Red Tails, have had their day of recognition. Today the Montford Point Marines had theirs, as the Marine Corps and Congress honored 400 of the first black Marines by giving them the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.

"This is something we didn't think we'd see in our lifetime," said 1st Sgt. William McDowell, as he received the medals on behalf of the group. He started to cry, remembering those pioneering Marines, who are no longer alive to receive this honor. He then caught himself and laughed, "My commander would have said "suck it up, Marine."

Seventy years ago when these black Marines enlisted, there were still Jim Crow laws in the South. It was 1942 and the height of World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt had ordered the military to enlist blacks the year before. The Marines were the last service to do so.

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