100-year-old WWII veteran honored with street renaming in New Jersey hometown

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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One New Jersey town is honoring a 100-year-old World War II veteran by renaming a street after her. Sade Baderinwa has more.

EAST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- One New Jersey town is honoring a 100-year-old World War II veteran by renaming a street after her.

The street that Gladys Blount used to live on, North Oraton Parkway and Davis Place, is now named after her.

Seventy-seven years ago, Blount was shipped from her hometown of East Orange, New Jersey, to England to help in WWII.

She was a member of an exclusive all Black, all female postal battalion.

The 855 Black women were given the massive task of sorting through millions of letters and packages. The goal was to boost morale for soldiers longing to hear from loved ones back home.

"They were basically like the internet, sharing information for people way across seas," said Blount's grandson, Willie Davis.

The determined women worked long, grueling days and averaged 65,000 pieces of mail per shift.

Blount said that she was just happy to help.

"I didn't think much of it. I just thought it was part of the routine," she said.

But when the work was over, it was back to reality in the United States for the battalion. There was no praise, no recognition and not even so much as a pat on the back.

"Miss Gladys existed in this community in a time that people who looked like her were not necessarily welcomed here," said Mustafa Al-M with the East Orange City Council.

Nearly eight decades later, Blount is getting the praise she deserved back in 1945. Over the summer, she was awarded the key to the city of East Orange.

In fact the mayor traveled to her home in Florida to give it to her in person. He called Blount a living legend on whose shoulders we humbly stand.

"Now after so many years they are actually recognizing and she is stunned," the mayor said. "She is just shocked that all of this attention is being brought to her."

This year, President Joe Biden awarded Blount's unit a Congressional gold medal, the nation's highest award for distinguished achievements.

Blount's unit is also the subject of a new project by movie producer Tyler Perry and an upcoming Broadway musical.

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