Gen. David Berger, 38th commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, will provide remarks on the legacy and historical impact of the Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps, during a ceremony Thursday at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The 12th annual Montford Point Marine Day Ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. at the Montford Point Marines Memorial in Lejeune Memorial Gardens. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event will be limited to invited guests only. The public is encouraged to watch the ceremony live online at the Camp Lejeune Facebook Page
According to a release from Camp Lejeune officials, the Montford Point Marines were a group of nearly 20,000 African Americans who served from 1942 to 1949. Prior to 1942, African Americans were barred from enlisting in the Marine Corps.
The first African American Marines were trained at Montford Point Camp, located in Jacksonville as a satellite camp of Camp Lejeune. In 1949, President Harry Truman ordered the racial integration of the military and Montford Point was renamed.
On July 22, 2010, the U.S. Congress passed Senate Resolution 587, which designated Aug. 26 as Montford Point Marine Day. Today, the Montford Point Marine Memorial includes features to honor those who trained at Montford Point Camp.
This year’s ceremony will include a presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to Marine veterans Cpl. Clarence L. Clark, Cpl. Clarence Powell and Pfc. Othelma Shell. There will also be a performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.