Savannah Haitian Monument
4 African American Military Memorials You Have to See
Learn about African American contributions to military efforts dating back to the Revolutionary War at these Georgia landmarks.
African Americans have been fighting alongside their fellow countrymen since the Revolutionary War. Before they could be legal citizens or exercise their inalienable rights, they fought and often died for the benefit of the United States. However, there is not much to attest to their sacrifice.
Even after giving the ultimate sacrifice, these heroes were often erased from history. Many times, they were buried in segregated cemeteries without military honors. They often weren't given the respect, in life and death, their white counterparts received.
In Georgia, military memorials are plenty, and there are a few memorials erected to commemorate African American war heroes. By paying tribute to African American war heroes, we are helping to commemorate their contributions.
Visit these places in Georgia to learn about and honor African American contributions to military efforts from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War.
Four African American Military Memorials in Georgia
Haitian Monument, American Revolution, Savannah
Did you know that people of color helped to fight in the Revolutionary War? They did! Savannah’s Haitian Monument commemorates the contribution of some these brave soldiers.
The Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue came to Savannah to fight for an independent America. They were one of only a few black regiments to fight for the American side in the Revolutionary War. The soldiers, recruited from present-day Haiti, then the French colony of Saint-Domingue, were free men who fought out of a sense of patriotism.
Most black soldiers actually fought for the British as they were promised their freedom in return. Also, there was a ban on black men fighting in the American war efforts because Southerners feared their slaves rising up against them.
This memorial in Franklin Square near City Market pays homage to the men who fought valiantly in the Battle of Savannah. The battle victory helped turn the war in the favor of the United States. One of the best times to visit is in October, when the Haitian Caribbean Heritage Festival takes place around the monument in Franklin Square.
Black Patriots Monument, Revolutionary War, Washington
Head north to Wilkes County to pay homage to black Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War. It’s estimated 5,000 African Americans fought for the Continental Army and 20,000 fought for the British.
The Black Patriots Monument in Washington, Georgia, erected in 2012, honors former slave Austin Dabney. He fought valiantly for the United States, even spying on the British to aid his regiment. He was wounded but survived the war and was given his freedom and a pension following the war.
You may want to visit this monument in August as Washington celebrates August 14 as Black Patriots Day, and in February, nearby Kettle Creek Battlefield commemorates the battle that broke the stranglehold the British had on Georgia. Revolutionary Days activities include a parade, re-enactments and more.
Atlanta History Center, Civil War, Atlanta
The Atlanta History Center offers many opportunities to learn about Georgians’ roles in military conflicts, especially during the Civil War. The center is home to one of the country's largest Civil War exhibitions. “Turning Point: The American Civil War” contains more than 1,500 Union and Confederate artifacts, including a Medal of Honor won by the United States Colored Troops. Be sure to look for the variety of collections from the African American regiments, including original documents.
The Atlanta History Center also offers special events throughout the year that showcase African American contributions to the Civil War. Past events have featured reenactments of life as a soldier in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.
Walk through the beautiful Veterans Park before you leave. It is an outdoor gathering space designed to inspire reflection and honor the lives of those who have made great sacrifices for our country.
Linwood Cemetery, Vietnam War, Macon
Sgt. Rodney M. Davis gave his life for his country in Vietnam in 1967. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1969, the only Macon resident to receive that prestigious award. When he died, the Davis family declined the honor of having him interred at Arlington National Cemetery to keep his final resting place closer to home. Because Macon did not allow African Americans to be buried within city limits in 1967, he was buried in Linwood Cemetery, an African American cemetery just outside the city.
Eventually, his grave, and those of the other African Americans buried at Linwood, fell into to disrepair. That was until 2012 when a 14-foot monument to Sgt. Davis was erected. It is a reminder of the contributions of Davis, as well as all African Americans. Davis’ photo and Medal of Honor are displayed at the Tubman Museum in Macon. Read more about Sgt. Davis and the memorial in this CNN article and in the book "Sgt. Rodney M. Davis: The Making of a Hero."
Established in 1894, Linwood Cemetery is the final resting place for approximately 4,000 African Americans, including Buffalo Soldiers, Spanish-American War veterans, and many other veterans and non-veterans alike.