Group holds vigil to honor Black WWII veterans murdered in Georgia

Group holds vigil to honor Black WWII veterans murdered in Georgia
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Nine Black veterans in Georgia were killed at the hands of their own countrymen when they got home from World War II.

A group gathered at the ‘Veterans Memorial Plaza’ in Athens this Memorial Day Weekend to remember and honor them.

They placed their nine names and sunflowers in a box with American flags.

The group says the killings were lynchings, whether the murders were by hanging or gunfire because they were racially motivated.

“[They] went off and fought for democracy and came home and look what democracy did,” said John Cole Vodicka, the event’s organizer.

Vodicka says the vigil is not just about naming each of the veterans murdered and hearing their stories of white community terror. It’s about making reparations.

“The first step is to acknowledge that lynchings happen and there were victims and there were victims who went to unmarked graves,” said Vodika.

Dee Cole Vodika says her father was a World War II veteran who was able to buy his first home on the GI bill and create family wealth, all because of his service.

“I think it’s really important that we name and recognize when privilege allows some people to have one reality and others to have a very different experience,” she said.

Hattie Lawson, another attendee, says she doesn’t want the next generation to forget the atrocities committed against these veterans and so many others.

She wants historical markers made, so we never forget.

“If we don’t pass the torch to another generation our voices will not be heard, our voices will be silenced. But the markers will be there for eternity,” Lawson said.