Better late than never. One Marine is finally being recognized nearly 70 years after for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Lenel Moore is 87 years old and only recently received a Congressional Gold Medal for his service with the Montford Point Marines. They were the first black Marines, who were able to join the armed forces after President Roosevelt opened up the military regardless of race in 1942.
It's really horrible to think about the way this country used to be -- but Moore served in a segregated Marine Corps. that trained separately from white Marines. Only about 1,000 of the original 20,000 black Marines were chosen to serve, and Moore was one of them. The armed forces remained segregated until 1948.
Moore served on Iwo Jima during WWII. Although most of the black Marines were in support units, many ended up in the middle of fighting. Moore was in a platoon of 32 men and only eight survived. Moore himself received shrapnel in his leg. He said their job was "clean up crew" and they carried the dead and injured off the field.
The military is trying to track down all of the surviving members of the Montford Point Marines in order to give them gold medals, but it's thought only about half of them are still alive.
Moore was surprised by the honor, which was given to him by Marines in his hometown in Ohio. But he said as soon as he stepped into the hall where he was to be honored, he could tell everyone was there for him because he "felt the joy."
Moore said, "If I had to do it all over again, I would" and that "I appreciate this honor I thought I'd never see." Moore's family, including his two children and his 23-year-old grandson, witnessed the ceremony. Interestingly, the grandson said he never knew about his grandfather's service until that day!
What do you think of Moore's honor?
Image via Cliff1066a/Flickr