21 Aug 2014
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Wilmette Marine Receives Congressional Gold Medal

The 86-year-old man was among America's first black Marines.

Wilmette Marine Receives Congressional Gold Medal

Dr. William Thomas, a former U.S. Marine and current resident of Wilmette, recently received the Congressional Gold Medal he was awarded last November, reported Wilmette Life.

Last year, Thomas, 86, was awarded the medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, alongside nearly 420 other black Marines who received basic training at Montford Point, North Carolina in the 1940s.

From 1942 to 1949, Montford Point served as a segregated boot camp for America's first black Marines. The camp shut down shortly after President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the armed forces in July 1948.

Though President Barack Obama signed the legislation issuing the awards last November, many Montford Point Marines received their medals during June ceremonies in Washington, D.C.

Other Americans who have received the Congressional Gold Medal include Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Edison, Robert F. Kennedy, Joe Louis, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Regan, Colin Powell, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson and Neil Armstrong.

Read the full Wilmette Life article  here.

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