Text: H.R.5248 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (11/21/2019)

[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 5248 Introduced in House (IH)]


  1st Session
                                H. R. 5248

  To award a Congressional gold medal to the 369th Infantry Regiment, 
commonly known as the ``Harlem Hellfighters'', in recognition of their 
          bravery and outstanding service during World War I.



                           November 21, 2019

  Mr. Suozzi introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
 Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on 
House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the 
  Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall 
           within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


                                 A BILL

  To award a Congressional gold medal to the 369th Infantry Regiment, 
commonly known as the ``Harlem Hellfighters'', in recognition of their 
          bravery and outstanding service during World War I.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Harlem Hellfighters Congressional 
Gold Medal Act''.


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) When the United States officially entered World War I 
        in April 1917, the Armed Forces were still segregated, even 
        though African-American soldiers had served and distinguished 
        themselves in every war since the Revolutionary War.
            (2) The 15th New York National Guard Regiment was mobilized 
        in 1917 as the 369th Infantry Regiment and called into Federal 
        service on July 25, 1917.
            (3) The 369th completed its basic military practice 
        training at Camp Whitman, New York.
            (4) To receive combat training, the 369th reported on 
        October 8, 1917, to Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina, where the 
        369th experienced many incidents of racial discrimination.
            (5) Because many White soldiers refused to perform combat 
        duty with Black soldiers, members of the 369th were initially 
        assigned manual labor tasks, such as loading and unloading 
        supplies, and constructing roads and railroads.
            (6) To escape such prejudice, the Regiment shipped off to 
        France in early 1918 and, on April 8 of that year, was assigned 
        to the French Army for the duration of American participation 
        in the war.
            (7) On September 25, 1918, the Fourth French Army went on 
        the offensive in conjunction with the American drive in the 
        Meuse-Argonne where the 369th captured the important village of 
        Sechault despite sustaining severe losses.
            (8) The 369th was also present in the Champagne-Marne, 
        Meuse-Argonne, Champagne 1918, and Alsace 1918 campaigns, and 
        fought in the Battles of Belleau Wood and Chateau-Thierry.
            (9) On November 26, 1918, the 369th reached the banks of 
        the Rhine River, the first Allied unit to do so.
            (10) The 369th was relieved of its assignment with the 
        French 161st Division on December 12, 1918, then returned to 
        New York, and was demobilized on February 28, 1919.
            (11) The 369th received a parade down 5th Avenue in New 
        York on February 17, 1919, receiving applause and cheers from 
        hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
            (12) For his courageous and patriotic service, Private 
        Henry Johnson of the 369th received the French Croix de Guerre, 
        with Palm, for extraordinary valor, the first American to be 
        awarded this honor. He also belatedly received a Purple Heart, 
        was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and in 2015 was 
        awarded the Medal of Honor.
            (13) Over 170 individual members of the 369th received the 
        Croix de Guerre, many, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the 
        369th was awarded a unit citation.
            (14) The 369th was dubbed the ``Harlem Hellfighters'' by 
        German soldiers, who found the men to be incredibly determined 
        and courageous in battle.
            (15) The 369th was one of the first regiments of African 
        Americans to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces 
        during World War I and one of the first units in the United 
        States to have Black officers lead enlisted men.
            (16) Altogether, the 369th spent 191 days on the front line 
        in World War I, more than any other American unit.
            (17) The 369th never lost a foot of ground or had a man 
        taken prisoner, despite suffering greater losses than any other 
        American regiment, with over 1,500 casualties.


    (a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design to the 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly 
known as the ``Harlem Hellfighters'', in recognition of their bravery 
and outstanding service during World War I.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall strike the gold 
medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be 
determined by the Secretary.
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal 
        under subsection (a), the gold medal shall be given to the 
        Smithsonian Institution, where it will be displayed as 
        appropriate and made available for research.
            (2) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
        the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received 
        under this Act available for display elsewhere, particularly at 
        other locations and events associated with the Harlem 


    Under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may 
prescribe, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of 
the gold medal struck under section 3(b), at a price sufficient to 
cover the costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of 
machinery, and overhead expenses.


    Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes 
of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.

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