Restoring the memories of Black veterans, one gravesite at a time

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — African American war heroes buried in Oaklawn cemetery were once forgotten graves, are now being restored.

Fellow veterans have been working tirelessly since 2017 to help restore the veterans’ graves at Oaklawn cemetery. Heading this effort is Eddie Irby Jr., President and founder of the Buffalo Soldiers 92nd Infantry Division spearheading this effort. Irby says, “We always give flowers to soldiers when they leave here, but why not do it while they’re here and recognized here? Everyone out here is a veteran and these people have a desire to keep and preserve what’s already here.”

Fellow veterans working alongside him are creating a group called the Veterans Memorial Recovery Team. One member Bill Atkeison says, “Our main purpose is to clean the cemetery and honor those military veterans as well as the other civilians that are buried out here because everybody out here had a life at one time and they were important to somebody. Our veterans got us here, and the ones we have in the military right now are keeping us here. Sometimes it looks like a struggle and we back up but we are still here and we are still fighting.”

It’s truly remarkable what they have uncovered dating back to World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and even slavery. They have also uncovered a number of Jewish soldiers dating back to WWI that wore U. S. Military uniforms. Educators, civil rights people, doctors, lawyers, and others that changed the makeup of Mobile were also discovered.

The VMRT is asking for donations to further their purpose of honoring veterans one grave at a time. You can find a link to their paypal on their Facebook.

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