Loudoun County ceremony with plaque insetThe ceremony at Loudoun County Courthouse November 11 unveiling the new WWI Memorial plaque (inset) with all names in alphabetical order. 

'It's about time': Loudoun Co. updates WW1 memorial so Black & white names are together

By Jay Corff
via the ABC News 7 television station (DC) web site

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — On the very day we honor those who serve, an emotional ceremony unfolded on the grounds of Loudoun County’s historic courthouse. The event designed to right a nearly 100-year-old wrong inflicted upon this community’s Black veterans who died in the Great War.

Veteran Philip Rusciolelli says, “This is not an effort to change history ladies and gentlemen. It is a correction of injustice.”

The original World War 1 plaque, when dedicated in 1922, had the names of three Black men who perished separated and placed below the names of the white fallen servicemembers. Well, that didn't sit well with Marilyn Thornton and a lot of other people here.

Thornton says, “And I passed the plaque one day and saw it and noticed the names.”

Thornton started researching this injustice seeing that one of her relatives, Samuel Thornton, was among those whose service and humanity had been disrespected on the memorial.

“It’s not good. It’s terrible. The plague is segregated," says Thornton.

Thornton approached county leaders who, along with volunteers, embarked on a project to change the plaque. Thursday night, with several descendants in attendance, the new plague was unveiled. The names Ernest Gilbert, Valentine Johnson, and Samuel Thornton are now where they should be, which is in alphabetical order.

“A bullet doesn’t care if you’re black or white," says Marc Johnson.

Marc Johnson’s great uncle Valentine Johnson died of tuberculosis during the war.

Read the entire article on the ABC News 7 web site here:


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