A long time ago, our country was racist. I KNOW, I KNOW… hard to believe. Segregation was normal* and US Marines of the darker skinned variety served in their own units. Initially, this was the Montford Point Marines. They were the first black unit in the US Marine Corps. Did they enjoy a different boot camp? I’d imagine with the racist roots, they were probably treated even more rotten than your white Marines. In my opinion, this probably turned out a tougher breed if that’s how it was handled.
The Montford Marines, while black and less popular in the public eye because of it (similar to the Massachusetts 54th), were Marines and fought just as heartily for their country.
While they were treated differently, I’m of the opinion this is wrong that they were still segregated. Marines are Marines, regardless of skin tone or reproductive organs. The Montford Point Marines are no different.
Private James Howard Benjamin was reportedly killed October 29th, 1944 and buried in Hawaii. In 1949, he was exhumed and reburied in Georgia unceremoniously; after all it was just a black Marine, right?
This weekend, this gets corrected. He is to be reburied YET AGAIN. This time, it’s in Andersonville National Cemetery, where he is to be buried with full military honors and an escort by the Patriot Guard Riders. Incredibly fitting that this is happening on Memorial Day Weekend.
Semper Fi, Private Benjamin. Rest in peace, brother. After 66 years, you deserve it!
* Footnote – Desegregation of our troops occurred after Pvt. Benjamin’s death, in 1948 by Executive Order 9981.