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Black female WWII battalion awarded Congressional Gold Medal

The first and only all-female, Black WWII unit received Congressional Cold Medal

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Members of the 6888th battalion stand in formation in Birmingham, England, in 1945.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Army Women’s Museum, members of the 6888th battalion stand in formation in Birmingham, England, in 1945.

Associated Press

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Monday, according to The Associated Press.

About the women of the 6888th: The 6888th Central Post Directory Battalion was the first and only all-Black female unit to be deployed overseas during World War II, according to the battalion website.

  • Upon arriving in Europe, the 855 women in the unit were assigned the daunting task of sorting through months of backed-up and undelivered mail.
  • “Before the formation of the Six Triple Eight ... it was unfathomable that a unit composed of entirely Black women would be posted overseas and trusted with such a monumental task. The Six Triple Eight was an experiment — a pass-fail test to determine the value Black women brought to the military,” according to The New York Times.
  • The women cleared out 17 million pieces of backed-up mail in three months, which took half as long as predicted, according to AP News.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Maj. Fannie Griffin McClendon, who served on the 6888th battalion, in response to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.

  • She is currently 101 years old and living in Arizona, according to NBC News. “It’s something I never even thought about. ... I don’t know if I can stand this,” said McClendon.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded by Congress to express the “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions,” since the American Revolution, according to the U.S. Senate website.

  • The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded every year. Previous recipients of the award include The Capitol Police and those who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the Fallen Heroes of 9/11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and more.
  • A list of recipients can be viewed on the U.S. Senate website.

The bottom line: “This is a long-overdue honor and recognition for the women of the Six Triple Eight,” said New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in a statement, according to AP News. “(The women of The 6888th battalion) were trailblazers and patriots who answered the call to service. It’s even more remarkable that their sacrifice and service in defense of freedom came at a tine when many of the freedoms they fought for were not yet available to them.”