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vets CST 111312 4.0 Victory Monument, at 35th & King Drive in Chicago | Sun-Times Media  

Centennial anniversary of WWI black veterans group deserves attention 

By Mary Mitchell
via the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper web site

My favorite photograph of my father is of him in his navy uniform, posing on the deck of the ship he served on in World War II.

It was a cherished piece of history that disappeared shortly before his death.

The photograph, along with his honorable discharge papers, was a reminder that even when he wasn’t being respected as a citizen, he was a patriot.

But without a griot, black history can easily be lost.

For instance, as many times as I have walked by and driven past the Victory Monument at 35th and King Drive, I was unaware of its ties to one of the few remaining black American Legion posts in the U.S.

Next month, the George L. Giles Post #87 will celebrate its 100-year anniversary with an open house Aug. 17 at the post, at 5745 S. State St., and a gala the next day Aug. 18.

For 93 of those years, the post has kept this important history alive by leading an annual Veterans Day parade to the Victory Monument.

That sculpture was built in 1927 to honor the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard — an African American unit.

“At the time we formed the post in 1919, this was the only place that we were allowed to meet and discuss what had happened in our life,” said Cmdr. Ashley Shine Jr., 73.

“This 100-year anniversary is quite a celebration. To be able to achieve 100 years as a veterans organization, but also 100 years of outreach for the community is quite an achievement.”

Read the entire article on the Chicago Sun-Times web site here:

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