In a historic achievement, the African American Civil War Memorial Museum has garnered a Guinness World Record for having the most names on a war memorial. With over 200,000 names etched onto its walls, the museum has successfully highlighted the immense contribution of African American soldiers to the Civil War and their pivotal role in reshaping the nation.
The museum, located at 1925 Vermont Avenue Northwest, has been a beacon of knowledge and remembrance, dedicated to sharing the untold stories of African Americans who fought during the Civil War.
Marquett Milton, the D.C. museum’s dedicated historical interpreter, shared insights into the museum’s remarkable journey and the significance of this Guinness World Record achievement.
Milton explained that the Museum’s mission is to reveal the truth about African Americans’ involvement in the Civil War, dispelling the long-held misconception that they were merely bystanders in the struggle for freedom.
“We shared an untold story, the number one American-kept secret about African Americans who fought in the Civil War,” said Milton.
He emphasized the importance of recognizing the African American soldiers’ heritage
“We made the best soldiers because we were descendants of soldiers that came over as prisoners of war,” he explained.
Milton also weighed in on the Emancipation Proclamation, describing it as a government’s call for help to save the Union and shows the significant role played by African American troops in this endeavor.
“By arming us, we were the bomb because the idea was to turn us into the weapon,” Milton explained.
African American soldiers served as valuable assets – providing intelligence and reconnaissance, conducting raids, capturing Confederate officers, and frequently acting as spies, guides, and scouts in the South.
The Museum’s historical interpreter also highlighted the vital role played by Black civilians during the Civil War. African Americans were not only on the front lines, but also filled essential skilled roles such as educators, nurses, launderers, cooks, laborers, and blacksmiths.
Milton shared the comprehensive records and maps that highlighted the vast network of African American soldiers’ contributions during the Civil War.
“The African American Civil War Memorial Museum is a critical lens into the history of our country and Black Americans’ contributions,” shared At-Large D.C. Council member Robert White.
White went on to point out that these soldiers were responsible for maintaining law and order in the South during martial law, effectively taking over the region.
“Our stories are often lost or swept into a broader narrative that doesn’t capture Black Americans’ struggles and contributions. In truth, without Black Civil War troops, our country would be a different place today,” White told The Informer.
On Feb. 1, founding director, and former Ward 1 D.C. Council member Frank Smith proudly announced the Guinness World Record achievement, revealing that the museum has over 200,000 names and 175 regiments on its memorial wall, representing approximately 10% of the Northern army during the Civil War.
“We’ve worked hard and long to bring this story of the heroic achievement of African American soldiers in the Civil War. To bring it to the attention of the public, and this Guinness recognition, makes it worldwide. So, we’re very pleased,” Smith beamed.
Source: Washington Informer