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ASHTABULA, Ohio -- A northeast Ohio man who was one of the first blacks to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps has been honored by his country nearly 70 years after his service ended.

The Plain Dealer reports that 87-year-old Lenel Moore's family cheered, applauded and wept Saturday as Moore received the Congressional Gold Medal in his hometown of Ashtabula.

Moore received the medal from the members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines headquartered in the Cleveland suburb of Brook Park.

He said he appreciated the honor that he thought he would never see.

Congress authorized the medals for the first black Marines, known as the Montford Point Marines. They joined the Marine Corps after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order in 1942 to open up enlistment regardless of race.