Parade Grand Marshall awarded Congressional Gold MedalJuly 4th, 2012 at 4:40 pm by Jim Shella under Jim Shella's Political Blog
The grand marshal of the Lawrence 4th of July parade is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, this country’s highest civilian honor. Averitte Corley is one of the Montford Point Marines, the people who broke the color barrier in the U.S. military.
Before the parade Congressman André Carson awarded Corley the Gold Medal. It comes 67 years after Corley enlisted in the Marine Corps where he served for 15 years. “And we thought we’d never get any recognition,” said a smiling Corley.
The Montford Point Marines are 20,000 black marines who from 1942 to 1949 were trained at Montford Point, a segregated camp in North Carolina. Corley is one of about 420 living Montford Point Marines. About 400 of them were in Washington, DC last week where they received Gold Medals in a Congressional ceremony. Corley couldn’t be there because he’s recovering from a stroke.
He was joined today by some of the Marines who were including Johnny C. Washington who said of the recognition, “I thought it would never come cause it takes so long so you kind of give it up, but it finally made it.”
Averitte Corley wants to talk mostly about what the Marine Corps did for him. “I was getting 3 hots and a cot,” he said. “Plus, it instills in you that you can do things that you thought you can’t do, for training.”
Corley pointed out that Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is one of the people in Congress who led the push for recognition of the Montford Point Marines. He’s grateful.