Augusta veterans honored ahead of Memorial Day

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In honor of Memorial Day, local community members are paying tribute and honoring 11 African American veterans who served in the military, and more veterans were honored and celebrated at their own funerals.

Yet once they were laid to rest, their grave markers were never adorned with a medallion or flag to symbolize that they served our country, until now.

Between every birth and death date on a headstone, there’s a dash that tells a story.

“A lot of blood was shed for that flag, you know, fighting for freedom,” said Eddie Matthews, a family member of a veteran.

Matthews’ great uncle was missing an important piece of his story.

“As you look at his headstone, it has nothing that signifies that he was in the military at all,” said Matthews.

One cemetery worker says this isn’t uncommon and it all comes down to paperwork.

Joyce Law, Cedar Grove Cemetery worker, said, “When there’s time, for funerals, sometimes it’s very little time to retrieve documents, so families don’t know how to access them.”

This Memorial Day, Law is making it her mission to honor 11 African Americans, like Sargent Thomas Fleming Crump.

“They will have either a medallion, that’s fixed or they will be receiving a veteran’s headstone that they are unmarked, in a court and their family members will receive a presidential Memorial certificate from President Joe Biden,” said Law.

With the medallion now on his great uncle’s grave, Matthews says it shares more than just his story.

Matthews said: “This is an American flag that he signed up to defend, you know. It’s on his headstone is implemented that signifies that he was a member of the United States Army. Maybe in your lifetime, you didn’t get that kind of recognition but in death, we still want to honor your service.”

News 12 heard from a number of families in Thursday’s event who say they’re grateful for the dedication.