521 Dirksen Senate Office Building
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Hagan Honors Montford Point Marines at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
The first African American Marines at last receive the recognition they deserve
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) today honored the Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, during a ceremony in Washington, DC. Approximately 400 Montford Point Marines, including 32 North Carolinians, traveled to Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, for their historic and dedicated service during World War II.
"In the face of intolerance, the Montford Point Marines served our country with honor and distinction," said Hagan. "They forged a new path within our armed services, and for that, they are not only trailblazers, but true heroes. I am so pleased that today, these brave men - and their families - are finally getting the recognition they deserve."
Senator Hagan was the lead Senate sponsor of legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. Hagan introduced the Congressional Gold Medal bill on September 8, 2012 with Senators Richard Burr (NC), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Pat Roberts (KS), and Charles Schumer (NY). The House passed the bill on October 25, and on November 9, in advance of Veterans Day and the Marine Corps' 236th anniversary, the Senate unanimously passed the legislation to grant long overdue recognition to the Montford Point Marines.
The Congressional Gold Medal was designed and approved by the Montford Point Marine Association, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Mint. Each Montford Point Marine in attendance will receive a bronze replica of the medal Thursday during a parade hosted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps at Marine Barracks Washington.
Nearly 20,000 Montford Point Marines trained at segregated Camp Montford Point, near Jacksonville, North Carolina between 1942 and 1949. African Americans were integrated into the armed forces in 1941 as a result of an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The executive order, which established the Fair Employment Practices Commission, stated that "there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin." Many Montford Point Marines participated in the Pacific Theatre Campaign of World War II, and many went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam.