All Black, female battalion closer to Congressional Gold Medal
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) wants to honor an inspirational group of soldiers in charge of morale during WWII with a Congressional Gold Medal.
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There’s a storied legacy of military service in Kelley Evans’ family, generations pioneered by her Great, Great Aunt Edna Baskin.
“We all looked up to her,” said Evans. “She was very courageous.”
Baskin was a member of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, more commonly referred to as the “Six Triple Eight.” The battalion was the only all Black female unit overseas during WWII.
With the slogan “no mail, low morale”, they were sent to sort the massive backlog of mail in the European theater. Reports indicate the women were confronted with warehouses stacked to the ceilings, Christmas packages, love letters, and in some cases, final correspondence between loved ones lost.
The women swiftly completed their mission in England and France. But, in many cases, instead of appreciation, they faced racism, sexism, and segregation.
“They knew what they were escaping, and they knew what they were coming back to, but they still wanted to serve their country,” said Evans.
Years later, the “Six Triple Eight” has been celebrated through documentaries. exhibits, and ceremonies across the country, but now there’s a continuing call from members of Congress for more.
“I’ve introduced legislation to provide these women with a congressional gold medal,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). “I want these women to know much they are appreciated by our citizens of our country today.
The Congressional Gold medal is commissioned through Congress as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event.
The bipartisan measure has passed the U.S Senate unanimously and is headed to a House vote. Moran introduced the bill in a previous session of Congress, but it was never passed by the House.
Now, with bipartisan support, Sen. Jerry Moran, says he hopes to pay the “Six Triple Eight’s” gift of morale forward, to their families, and to the generations of female pioneers to come.
“It means so much to us,” said Evans. “If this happens it’s a game-changer for black women everywhere.”
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