May 29, 2004 – Delegate Donna M. Christensen kicked off Memorial Day Weekend Celebrations by speaking in Washington, D.C., on Saturday at the launch of the Black Patriots Foundation Hall of Honor.
Authorized by Congress in 1986 to identify, acknowledge and honor the service of black service men and women from the Revolutionary War to present-day conflicts, the Black Patriots Foundation is charged with building a memorial to be located in Constitution Gardens, near the Mall in Washington.
"It was truly an honor to be among so many black veterans and their families from all over the country on this most significant of Memorial Day weekends, when we not only honor the veterans of World War II, but we launch the Black Patriots Hall of Honor as well," Christensen said.
She joined Col. Chuck McGee of the Tuskegee Airmen and Rear Adm. Lawrence Lafayette Poe at ceremonies launching the hall of honor on Saturday morning.
"The Hall of Honor is located on the Black Patriots Web site, where black veterans and their families from around the country can post a picture and short bio of their service," Christensen said. There's a $30 fee for doing so, and the proceeds "will go toward the $12 million needed to construct the Constitution Gardens monument," she said.
"Beginning with the death of Crispus Attucks, the first to die during the Boston Massacre, African Americans have given their lives to secure the freedom and liberty we enjoy today," a release from the Black Patriots Foundation states. "It is vital for all Americans to acknowledge and honor the patriotism, commitment and contributions of African Americans who fought under circumstances in which they put their country before their rights, and were many times unable to reap the full benefits of their participation."
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the foundation's goal is "to collect 100,000 names of black veterans from all branches of the military who served during World War II to add to the entries in the Black Patriots Hall of Honor," the release says. A veteran or any family member, friend or acquaintance may submit the person's name, photograph and brief service record information.
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