Posted by Sen. Reid's Staff
7/11/2012 - 2:38 PM
In 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave African-Americans an opportunity to serve in the United States Marine Corps. Although the Corps was forced by President Franklin Roosevelt to accept black recruits, it wasn’t forced to treat them equally. The first African-American recruits were segregated in basic training, and they went to Montfort Point, located at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. These Marines paved the way for future generations of African-American recruits.
I recently had the honor of meeting with Mr. Leon Moten and Mr. Irvin Odom, two of the three known surviving Montford Point Marines who now reside in Las Vegas. Mr. Odom and Mr. Moten joined other surviving Montford Point Marines from across the United States at a ceremony in the United States Capitol Building to receive Congressional Medals of Honor. Montford Point graduate Elmer Brown, also from Nevada, unfortunately could not attend the ceremony, but I congratulate him as well for his contributions.
The Montford Point Marines were forced to ride at the back of the troop train, eat at separate lunch counters and use different bathrooms. They were trained to fight injustice overseas. Meanwhile, they suffered discrimination every day. Neither Mr. Odom, Mr. Moten, or Mr. Brown joined the Marines intending to be trailblazers or heroes, but they certainly are. I am pleased these Nevadans and every man who trained at Montford Point received this auspicious award.
From left: Nevada Senator Harry Reid meets with Montford Point Marines who now reside in Las Vegas, Mr. Leon Moten and Mr. Irvin Odom.
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