Virginia flags were at half-staff on March 18 to honor Tommy Lee DeRamus, Sr.

Cheryl E Preston
The Montford MarinesPhoto byYoutube Marine Corps recruiting screenshot

Why were Virginia flags at half-staff on Saturday?

You may have noticed that Virginia flags were at half-staff on Saturday, March 18 from sunrise to sunset but have no idea why. ABC News 8 is reporting Governor Glen Yunkin decreed that flags on state and local government buildings would be lowered to honor African American marine Tommy Lee DeRamus Sr. There was a time when flags were only lowered after the death of a president or well-recognized government official but DeRamus was neither his name is one that most citizens of the Commonwealth probably don't recognize.

DeRamus was a Montford Point Marine the first group of African American marines to enlist after the Fair Employment Practices Commission was established in June 1941.  These Marines got their name from Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C., where they trained between 1942 and 1949
The Montford MarinesPhoto byYoutube screenshot the Mrine Corps recruiting

Tommy Lee Deramus was a war hero

In 1941 the United States was preparing to enter the war and Civil Rights leaders were planning a March on Washington so that Black men would have a right to serve their country but President Franklin D Rosevelt initially resisted.

On June 25, 1941, just a week before the march was set to take place, the president signed Executive Order 8802, prohibiting racial discrimination in the defense industry or in government. At last, all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces were open to African Americans.

The Montford Marines enlisted during WWII but because of segregation were not able to train with White soldiers at Camp LeJeune and were placed in a remote area of Montford North Carolina. They were required to dig their own trenches and build their own barracks. Tommy Lee DeRamus Sr. was part of a group of men who were pioneers and served their country despite obstacles in their way. DeRamus Sr. died in Portsmouth on March 7 at the age of 93.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

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