McCaskill Honors Veterans Who Served Despite Segregation
Senator championed legislation to award Montford Point Marine veterans with Congressional Gold Medals, Met with and thanked African-American Missouri veterans before receiving their medals at Capitol ceremony
June 27, 2012
WASHINGTON - Despite living in a time when racial discrimination and segregation occurred throughout the country, more than 300 African-American Missourians willingly volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Today, as they prepare to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their service, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill honored the Montford Point Marine veterans, including some who traveled from Missouri to be honored for their bravery and commitment to America.
"These veterans represent the very best our country has to offer," said McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran. "They never gave up on America, regardless of how they may have been treated in return. That kind of spirit and determination is something we should honor and remember. Meeting veterans like these reminds me yet again why those who served in World War II are known as the ‘greatest generation.'"
McCaskill-who personally thanked some of today's Gold Medal recipients-previously cosponsored and helped pass legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to all Montford Point Marines who trained for duty at the segregated Montford Point facility at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing African-Americans to be recruited by the Marine Corps, however they were not allowed to attend traditional boot camps, despite serving with distinction throughout the Pacific.
Montford veterans from Missouri who received the Congressional Gold Medal today included: Lawrence Diggs of Columbia, Mo., Charles Lockett of St. Louis, Robert Motley of Kansas City, and John Tilghman of St. Peters, Mo.
McCaskill has championed veterans causes since coming to the Senate in 2006 and was a founding member of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus, having led the effort to pass the VOW to Hire Heroes Act and repeatedly rallying support for additional care for servicemembers returning from combat duty.
Recently, McCaskill told a Senate panel that legislation is needed to address the practice in which financial institutions use loopholes to abuse pension programs that provide benefits to military veterans. McCaskill also welcomed the last-ever Honor Flight carrying veterans from the Ozarks to the national World War II Memorial.
To see more about McCaskill's record fighting for Missouri's veterans, click HERE.
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