WASHINGTON – The first African American Marines, also known as Montford Point Marines, will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center today at 3 p.m. They will also be the guests of honor at a parade hosted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps at Marine Barracks Washington on June 28 at 9 a.m.
Montford Point Marine representative, Mr. William McDowell, will accept the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of all Montford Point Marines. This medal will reside at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.
From 1942 to 1949, approximately 20,000 African American recruits were trained at Montford Point during World War II. There will be approximately 400 Montford Point Marines in attendance, and they will each receive a bronze replica medal the next day at the parade.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded as the utmost expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.
"I would like to congratulate the Montford Point Marines on the Congressional Gold Medal minted in their honor. This recognition is long-overdue and richly deserved. By breaking the color-barrier in 1942, the Montford Point Marines became part of the rich legacy of our Corps. They answered our nation's call despite our society being deeply divided along racial lines. As such, their contributions went largely unrecognized and many times they were not given the respect and recognition they deserved as Marines, as Americans, and as patriots," said Gen. James F. Amos. "To me, they were heroic for two reasons: they fought against the enemy during World War II while they also fought for their civil rights and the respect of their fellow Americans. It is fitting that we, as Americans, honor their selfless service and sacrifice with the Congressional Gold Medal and fully embrace their storied contributions to the history of our nation at war."
The medal was designed and approved by the Montford Point Marine Association, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Mint. Bronze replica medals will be available for purchase on the U.S. Mint webpage June 27.