Congressional Gold Medal approved for WWI’s Harlem Hellfighters
By Steven Nelson
via the New York Post newspaper (NYC) web site
Congress on Monday agreed to award a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to the Harlem Hellfighters, a black New York National Guard unit that fought in World War I.
The medal is the highest US civilian award alongside the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has been awarded fewer than 200 times — most recently to police forces involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Although the men of the 369th Infantry Regiment are dead, the medal was sought by their descendants and pushed by New Yorkers who said the unit wasn’t sufficiently celebrated at the time.
Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sponsored the bill, which passed the House in June and the Senate on Monday night.
The Hellfighters spent 191 days in the trenches of France before the war ended. About 1,400 of its men were killed or wounded, more than any other regiment, according to the congressional offices.
Although the war often is remembered as a struggle between European imperial powers, Gillibrand said in a statement that the New Yorkers fought to “defend our freedoms.”
“The Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act honors these brave men, who, even as they faced segregation and prejudice, risked their lives to defend our freedoms,” Gillibrand said.
Read the entire article on the New York Post web site web site.
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