Washington, DC – Nearly 400 African-American World War II veterans are honored by the United States Congress with the conferral of Congressional Gold Medals in appreciation for their service as the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corp. The first African-American Marines were trained at the segregated Camp Montford Point, in Jacksonville, NC, from 1942 to 1949. More than 20,000 men were trained at Montford Point and they are known as the Montford Point Marines.
Meredith’s father, Marion Meredith Beal was among the newly crowned heroes. The elder Beal, who joined the Marine Corps in 1943, was also the first African American to work at Marine Corps Headquarters. Because he could type 100 words per minute (on a manual typewriter, mind you) Beal was able to avoid combat.
Congress voted earlier in the year to honor the pioneer veterans. The ceremony was held at the Capitol building and was presided over by Speaker of the House Steve Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Congresswoman Karen Bass represents the Beal family’s congressional district. She honored him further by reading into the Congressional Record a Proclamation praising his service.
Beal is a Knight International Journalism Fellow, headquartered in Nairobi working with the African Media Initiative to strengthen media organizations in Africa. He also is working to leverage the power of the media to spread awareness about health issues facing the continent. Beal, a former Global Webmaster at Dell, also owned several radio stations in Texas over the past decade and also has a background as a chemist and entomologist.
The three-day affair included a reception, parade at the Marine Barracks in Washington DC and the medal conferral ceremony held at Emancipation Hall in the Capitol. A dozen or so of Beal’s family and friends converged on the nation’s capitol to share in the celebration.
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