In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a presidential directive allowing African Americans to be recruited in the Marine Corps. African American recruits were not trained at Parris Island or San Diego, but were segregated and received basic training at Montford Point, a facility at Camp Lejeune, N.C. From 1942-1949, approximately 20,000 African American recruits received training at Montford Point during World War II. The original intent was to discharge these Marines after the war, but they proved themselves just as capable as all other Marines, regardless of race, color or creed. In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 negating segregation, and in September 1949, Montford Point was deactivated ending seven years of segregation. The camp was renamed Camp Johnson after Sgt. Maj. Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, one of the first African Americans to join the Marine Corps.
In 2011, Gen Amos pressed for the surviving members to receive the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM), the nation's highest civilian award. The vote passed in the House and the Senate in time for the 236th Marine Corps Birthday, and the bill was signed by the President before Thanksgiving. The award ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. on June 27 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. At this ceremony, one CGM will be accepted on behalf of all Montford Point Marines. This medal will reside at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. A second ceremony is schedule for 9 a.m. on June 28 at Marine Barracks Washington. At this ceremony and parade, the Montford Point Marines present will each receive a bronze replica of the CGM.
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