Forty-five veteran Montford Point Marines will attend Friday morning's Montford Point Memorial dedication amid the 51st National Convention of the National Montford Point Memorial Association (NMPMA).
The national convention will be held in Jacksonville this year and will include events like the Montford Point Memorial dedication that will memorialize the courage and resilience of the black Marines that trained at Montford Point.
At the ceremony, guests will have to opportunity to explore the memorial, which includes a restored 90-mm M1A1 anti-aircraft gun, a 15-foot bronze statue of a Montford Point Marine and a "Wall of Stars" that represents all of the Marines that trained at the segregated Montford Point recruit camp during the 1940s.
"My father Glenn J. White was a Montford Point Marine so I am elated to see the dedication finally coming to fruition," said Gina Francis, the public relations officer with the NMPMA Ladies Auxiliary.
The Marine Corps began accepting black service members after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination in the national defense industry.
It was the first federal action, though not a law, that promoted equal opportunity and prohibited employment discrimination in the United States, according to the press release.
That federal action prompted the construction of Montford Point, where approximately 20,000 black recruits trained from 1942-1949, until President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order that ended segregation in the military on July 26, 1948.
"We are officially dedicating the Montford Point Memorial on Friday morning. As of last night, I believe we have 600 RSVPs for the ceremony; 45 of those are Montford Point Marines," Francis said Wednesday afternoon.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. at Lejeune Memorial Gardens located by Camp Johnson, the only Marine installation named after a black service member: Sgt. Maj. Gilbert H. Johnson, a drill instructor at Montford Point that served during World War II and the Korean War.
According to Francis, the NMPMA still has sponsorship bricks for purchase, available online at mpmamemorial.org.