Montford Point Marine Memorial
The Montford Point Marine Memorial is located near the entrance to downtown Jacksonville at Montford Landing Road. The memorial is part of the Lejeune Memorial Gardens which includes the Beirut Memorial, 9/11 Beam, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Museum of the Marine (under construction in 2016). Lejeune Memorial Gardens is free and open to the public.
Getting There - Ample parking is located along Montford Landing Road for motorists. Jacksonville Greenways and trails winds peacefully through the site for and bicyclists and pedestrian visitors. Jacksonville Transit has stops within view of Lejeune Memorial Gardens by the Freedom Fountain and City Hall on New Bridge Street.
About the Memorial
The Montford Point Marine Memorial is dedicated to all Montford Point Marines and their legacy. A dedication ceremony was held on July 29, 2016 to officially open the Memorial to the public. It is located at Lejeune Memorial Gardens at Montford Landing Road in Jacksonville.
Elements of the memorial include three concentric circle patterns representing the ripples of influence that changes our nation. These ripples were caused by the Montford Point Marines, the US marine Corps and the American Public.
An artillery cannon is representative of WWII weaponry that all US Marines used and trained with. The sculpture represents all Montford Point Marines and represents when Montford Pointers shifted from being support personnel to defenders during the war.
A pillar is at the center of the memorial sight and honors Montford Pointers, the US Marine Corps and society during this time, for their unending drive to overcome equality.
A wall of stars includes approximately 20,000 gold stars representing the number of Montford Point Marines that served during WWII. The absence of names on the wall is symbolic of the fact that no complete roster of Montford Point marines has ever been located.
Brief History of the 'Montford Point Mariners'
In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. These African Americans, from all states, were not sent to the traditional boot camps of Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Instead, African American Marines were segregated - experiencing basic training at Montford Point - a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Approximately 20,000 African American Marines received basic training at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949.
Approximately 20,000 African American recruits received training at Montford Point Camp (less than 10% of the Marine Corps end strength) during World War II. The initial intent was to discharge these African American Marines after the War. In July of 1948 President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order #9981 negating segregation. In September of 1949, Montford Marine Camp was deactivated - ending seven years of segregation.
On April 19, 1974, Montford Point Camp was renamed Camp Johnson, in honor of the late Sergeant Major, Gilbert H. "Hashmark" Johnson. Johnson was one of the first African American's to join the Corps, a Distinguished Montford Point Drill Instructor and a Veteran of WWII and Korea. The Camp remains the only Marine Corps installation named in honor of an African American.
For a complete history, please visit the Montford Point Marine Association website at montfordpointmarines.com