Loudoun County moves to undo racial segregation on WWI memorial

Plaque that racially segregates the names of Loudoun County’s war dead on WWII memorial.(Courtesy Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1177)

Change may be coming to a 99-year-old World War I memorial in the heart of Leesburg, Virginia.

The memorial bears a bronze plaque that racially segregates the names of Loudoun County’s war dead.

“Right at the bottom of the plaque, there’s a line drawn and there’s three names below the line and those are the African Americans who lost their lives from Loudoun County in World War I,” said Supervisor Mike Turner from the Ashburn District.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, members voted 9 to 0 to bring the matter to a public hearing on Oct. 14.

Turner explained to the board that the local American Legion Post, which sponsored the plaque in 1921, joined by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1177 have agreed that their war memorial trust fund may be used to pay for a new bronze plaque with the integrated names of the war dead.

The fund, which is administered by Loudoun County for the sole purpose of maintaining all war memorials and monuments on courthouse grounds, had a balance of $23,318.26 as of Sept. 1, according to the board.

“I want to commend the VFW and the American Legion. They have just been wonderfully forthcoming in this entire discussion, they have really represented our community wonderfully,” said Turner.

“They were very amenable to changing the plaque and suggested we do that in concert with the hundred year anniversary of the plaque next year.”

The replacement plaque would list the names in alphabetical order. The measure also calls for a rededication ceremony of the renovated memorial sometime in 2021.

The memorial sits on the grounds of the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg.

On July 1, a new law was enacted in Virginia allowing local governments to remove, relocate, contextualize or cover war memorials.

Below is a map of where the plaque sits.

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