By Henry Morgan
Special to The Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I am grateful for this opportunity to offer my, and I’m sure the community’s, congratulations to the Rev. Harry Givens on the long-overdue and richly deserved awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. (Joplin Globe, Nov. 3).
The Montford Point Marines, established during World War II to meet the growing manpower needs of the military, were housed only a few miles from Parris Island, where white Marines were trained. They suffered brutal and demeaning treatment, even at the hands of their fellow Marines, from whom they were physically separated in those days of legalized racial segregation, and the nation owes them a great debt for their persistent refusal to give in or give up in the service of their country.
Being a little younger than Rev. Givens, my service was eight years in the Corps, all in the ‘50s. But we young Marines were well-aware of the Montford Point Marines, primarily through African-American Marines, now serving with us white Marines in the newly integrated military services. In 1948, against great opposition, President Harry Truman issued an executive order ending racial segregation in the military.
In 1953, President Eisenhower issued a second executive order banning racial segregation in the services, an order doubtless bearing much more weight coming from the former Supreme Allied Commander and World War II hero.
Of course these major steps in the fight to erase the shame and stain of racial segregation in our nation came too late to help the Rev. Givens and his fellow Montford Point Marines, but there is no doubt that these steps would have been impossible without the sacrifice of men like the Rev. Givens. Thank you sir, and those who served with you.
From one old Marine to another, I say, “Semper Fi, Marine.”