WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of black veterans who helped to integrate the Marine Corps during World War II are now proud recipients of the nation's highest civilian honor.
Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday to about 400 black Marines during a special ceremony on Capitol Hill.
The Corps was the last branch of the U.S. military to allow blacks to serve. The 400 Marines honored Wednesday were among roughly 20,000 blacks who trained at the Montford Point base in North Carolina, which was racially segregated. The base operated from 1942 to 1949.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned employment discrimination based on race by all federal agencies in 1941. A 1942 presidential directive allowed African Americans to serve in the Marines.