On Saturday December 4, 2021, at 12 Noon, at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, the Unity Group of Chattanooga, City of Chattanooga NEIGHBOROOTS Program, National Park Partners, Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation and the 44th USCT Reenactors Troop Regiment will host a Monument Dedication Ceremony for United States Colored Troops (USCT). These Troops served in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War and helped to build Chattanooga National Cemetery.
The ceremony will take place atop The Great Circle of Honor and is open to the public. (CDC Guidelines and COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place.)
As part of the 2019 Chattanooga MLK Day of Service, the Unity Group and Coalition Partners, which included the National Park Partners, Mary Walker Historical Educational Foundation, and the 44th USCT Reenactment group, held a wreath laying ceremony at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This was conducted in part to pay respectful tribute to the service and memory of the United States Colored Troops, and call for erecting a fitting monument which adequately conveyed their varied contributions in helping to preserve the Union. In 2020, the Unity Group and City of Chattanooga began to collaborate on this project as part of the NEIGHBOROOTS Program, which is an initiative to help Chattanoogans recognize their neighborhood history through public art, performances, and historical markers. Likewise, Keith Monuments has played a pivotal role as part of the monument design team and as a project consultant.
BACKGROUND: Throughout the duration of the Civil War, African- Americans performed in a wide variety of details and functions including rearguards, carpenters, chaplains, personal attendants, cooks, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, and laborers which often included the burying of the dead. On December 25, 1863, the Commander of the Cumberland, Gen. George H. Thomas — “The Rock of Chickamauga” — issued General Order 296 creating the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Cemetery and assigning oversight of the erection and completion to the Army’s chaplain Thomas B. Van Horne. The USCT played a vital and instrumental role in the building and construction of the Chattanooga National Cemetery and burying fallen troops. USCT units stationed in and around Chattanooga would also serve with bravery and gallantry during many pivotal conflicts which helped to preserve the Union.
In 1970 the Unity Group initiated the march, in Chattanooga, to make Dr. Martin L. King Birthday a national holiday. The march soon became what is now known as the Dr. Martin L. King Celebration Event. This event now consists of workshops, prayer breakfast, mid-week cross culture worship services, a March, etc. Also, the Unity Group was the driving force behind the renaming of 9th Street to M. L. King Blvd.
NEIGHBOROOTS is an initiative to help Chattanoogans recognize their neighborhood history through public art, performances, and historical markers.
The 44th U.S.C.T. was a Chattanooga raised United States Colored Troops Civil War Unit that saw action in the later months of the war particularly at the Battles of Dalton and Nashville.
National Park Partners champions conservation of the natural, historic, and cultural resources of Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, including Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District. NPP engages current and future generations in preserving and promoting the stories of these national treasures. npp-ccm.org
Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation is Chattanooga’s source for learning opportunities for youth, schools, and educational programs. The general public learns about our namesake, Mary Walker, and former slave who learned to read and write at the age of 117 and gains in-depth knowledge about African American history.
Keith Monuments has served Chattanooga and the surrounding area since the 1960’s.