Fort Benning officials on Tuesday are dedicating a memorial on the Georgia Army base to honor an 18-year-old Black soldier who was bound, abducted and lynched before he even got to serve in World War II.
Despite an investigation by the FBI, Pvt. Felix Hall’s killers were never brought to justice after his murder more than 80 years ago. His body wasn’t found for weeks after his death — in a ravine on the base.
“To be lynched as you’re in service to the United States Army — not by an enemy abroad, but by hatred at home — goes right to the core of my being as so wrong,” retired Army officer Richard Liebert told The Washington Post. Liebert has been fighting for years to convince the Army to memorialize Hall.
The honor is unusual amid the ongoing struggle to jettison Confederate fighters’ names from U.S. military bases. Benning is one of 10 Army bases named for soldiers who fought against U.S. service members. Congress has given the Defense Department until 2024 to scrub Confederate names.
A plaque will mark the last place Hall was seen alive on the base, and a marker will be placed where he died.
The memorial will remind “us of our duty to assure equality and justice for all those who follow in Private Hall’s footsteps in service to our nation,” said a statement from Georgia Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., who represents the Columbus area that includes Fort Benning.
It will also serve as a “reminder of the potential of the life of Private Hall and what he might have become had his life not been tragically cut short,” said Bishop, reported the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “They took something they cannot give back.”