JOPLIN, MO.--- Corporal Henry Givens shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for this very moment.
"I was proud that I was one of the first one thousand blacks in the marine corps and then after 50 some off years I finally got recognized for it," states Corporal Henery Givens, U.S. Marines Veteran.
Givens served in the Marines from 1944 until 1946 at Montford Point, a segregated basic training facility in North Carolina.
"See, the Marine Corps was the last to allow blacks in, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, they accepted blacks, the Marines were the last one to do it," states Raymon Thomas Sr., U.S. Marines Veteran.
"I can't describe what we had to go through in the boot camp and actually it was harder on the blacks than it was in the whites, I can assure you that," states Givens.
Due to health constraints and mix up with his record, Givens was not recognized with many of the other men he served with at a White House ceremony in 2011, but persistence from Marine, Ray Thomas Junior, has helped make this moment possible.
"He got copies of Reverend Givens discharge papers so he could submit them to Washington DC, so they would verify that he was eligible for this award," states Thomas.
A packed house of former veterans and community members came to the ceremony to show their support and respect for how givens has paved the way for other Marines.
"They let the world know that we were qualified and capable of carrying out the duties to which we were assigned. Without them, the door would have never been open for me to join," states Melodee Colbert Kean, Joplin Mayor.
"I think it goes a long way to righting a wrong because when you are giving your service to your country, you shouldn't have to encounter that type of thing that they had to encounter back then," states Thomas.
"If I can make it under the circumstances that I have come through, there's no reason anyone else can't make it if they put their mind to it," states Givens.
At the ceremony, Marines also held a traditional cake cutting in which the oldest and youngest Marines in the room enjoyed the first slices of cake. This is done every year in November to honor the corps birthday on November 10th.