WASHINGTON -- They broke barriers to serve their country -- even one that denied them basic rights.
On Veterans Day, the District of Columbia honored two of the original Tuskegee Airmen in a special ceremony at the African American Civil War Memorial.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American pilots in World War II.
Major Louis Anderson received the Tuskegee Airmen's Congressional Gold Medal.
"I'm just so happy that I was able to serve my country during World War II, happy to be part of this event and just blessed to be able to enjoy it all," Anderson says.
Anderson, 88, was a member of the 477th Bomber Group. He moved to Washington after the war and studied at Howard University.
"I stand proud to be a member of the original Tuskegee Airmen," he says.
William Fauntroy Jr., a native Washingtonian, is also an original Tuskegee Airman.
"I've been involved with some of the greatest men in the world -- those guys," he says.
He was among the Tuskegee Airmen honored in a 2007 ceremony that collectively awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal.
He became a student pilot in 1944.
"The war ended while I was in training," he says.
"My class likes to think it ended because we were in training," he jokes. "Everybody quit because they heard we were coming."
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