WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The House voted Monday to award the only all-female, Black unit to serve in Europe during World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The 422-0 vote follows a long-running campaign to recognize the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The Senate passed the legislation last year. The unit, known in short as the Six Triple Eight, was tasked with sorting and routing mail for millions of American service members and civilians. Only a half-dozen of the more than 850 members are still alive.
“It's overwhelming,” Maj. Fannie Griffin McClendon, who is 101 and lives in Arizona, said when told of the vote. “It's something I never even thought about it. I don't know if I can stand this.”
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was credited with solving a growing mail crisis during its stint in England and, upon their return, serving as a role model to generations of Black women who joined the military.
But for decades, the exploits of the 855 members never got wider recognition. But that has changed, starting several years ago.
A monument was erected in 2018 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to honor them, and the 6888th was given the Meritorious Unit Commendation in 2019. A documentary “The Six Triple Eight” was made about them. There is talk of a movie. Retired Army Col. Edna Cummings was among those advocating for the 6888th.
“The Six Triple Eight was a trailblazing group of heroes who were the only all-Black, Women Army Corps Battalion to serve overseas during World War II," said Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, who sponsored the bill after being contacted by the daughter of 6888th members Anna Mae Robertson.
“Facing both racism and sexism in a warzone, these women sorted millions of pieces of mail, closing massive mail backlogs, and ensuring service members received letters from their loved ones,” she continued. “A Congressional Gold Medal is only fitting for these veterans who received little recognition for their service after returning home.”
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