Congresswoman Corrine Brown was elated that the bill to grant a Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines was signed into law by President Obama.
"This is a great day for the Marines and for all Americans!" exclaimed the Congresswoman. "In a wonderful display of bipartisanship, this bipartisan bill to grant the Montford Point Marines a Congressional Gold Medal has now been officially signed into law by President Barack Obama! The bill passed under Unanimous Consent in the Senate, with 83 cosponsors, and with 308 cosponsors in the House, on a 422-0 vote, and serves as a perfect example of what can be achieved when both parties work together."
General James F. Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, a strong supporter of the Montford Point Marines, said that "this Resolution is of extreme importance to all Marines today. Their actions reflected the finest attributes of the "leatherneck' fighting spirit and blazed the trail for generations of African-Americans in the Marine Corps."
"Indeed," continued Congresswoman Brown, "this Resolution recognizes the service and sacrifice of the Montford Point Marines, and clearly demonstrates that today's United States Marine Corps is an excellent opportunity for advancement for persons of all races. Clearly, the original Montford Point Marines serve as a prime example of this, and set the bar very high for future Marines.
On June 25, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, opening the doors for the very first African Americans to enlist in the United States Marines," said the Congresswoman. "From 1942 to 1949, 20,000 African Americans enlisted in the Marine Corps in a time of war when the military services were resistant to integration.
These African Americans, from all States, were not sent to the traditional boot camps in Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Instead, African American Marines were segregated, and went through basic training at Camp Montford Point near the New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Years before Jackie Robinson and decades before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., these heroes joined the Marines to defend our country.
"As a key Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I am thrilled to see this piece of legislation has become law. On the House side, we worked extraordinarily hard with Financial Services Chairman Spencer Baucus (AL-6), Congressman Ander Crenshaw (FL-4), Congressman Allen West (FL-22), as well as Congressman Barney Frank (MA-4), and Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA-2) to obtain the necessary support of Members on both sides of the aisle to move this Resolution forward. On the Senate side, Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Bill Nelson of Florida also did tremendous work to be able to get enough Senate cosponsors on the legislation pass the measure unanimously," said the Congresswoman.
"Certainly," continued Congresswoman Brown, "it is necessary to honor all of America's war heroes' selfless service and sacrifice, and in particular, those who served at Montford Point, who are about to be officially recognized as a rich legacy of our Marine Corps. They answered our nation's call at a time when our society was deeply divided along racial lines. As such, many of their contributions went unrecognized and many times they were not given the respect and recognition they deserved as Marines, as Americans, and as patriots. To correct this past injustice, this Resolution was introduced on their behalf, and I wholeheartedly believe that it is necessary to confer the Congressional Gold Medal on the Montford Point Marines for their Service to the United States, from WWII to the Vietnam era. This is a proud victory for the Montford Point Marines, as this Gold Medal will forever anchor their role in the history of our nation's great military."