Loudoun’s World War I Monument to Be Desegregated

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The plaque on the World War I monument on the Leesburg courthouse lawn will be replaced with one that does not separate Loudouners who fell in that war by their race.

Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) said he only found out shortly after being elected in January that the names on the plaque are segregated. In the list of names of people who fell in the war are lines, separating the names of three Black Loudouners below.

The memorial was put in 1921, three years after the war, during the Jim Crow era. It was donated by the American Legion.

Turner contacted American Legion Post 34 to ask about replacing the plaque. He received a positive response from them, followed by a letter from the War Memorial Trust Committee, which includes local veterans, members of American Legion Post 34, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177, and chaired by Judge Thomas Horne. That letter also endorsed the idea of simply listing all names alphabetically.

They also suggested rededicating the memorial on its 100th anniversary next year.

That committee advises the county on how to spend the War Memorial Trust Fund, money donated by citizen groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and administered by the county government to maintain the war monuments on the courthouse grounds. The money to pay for replacing the plaque could come from that fund, which currently holds $23,318.

The new plaque, as planned, will be very similar to the current one but the names will be listing together.

Supervisors voted unanimously on Sept. 1. to schedule a public hearing on replacing the plaque, a requirement under state law to change the monument. That hearing is approved but not yet scheduled.

The desegregation of the names on the monument by the county government was made possible by new state law that went into effect this July, the same one that allowed the Board of Supervisors to consider taking down the Confederate monument that formerly stood in front of the old courthouse. After those talks began that monument was taken by its owners, the Daughters of the Confederacy.

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