PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. — During World War II, the United States Armed Forces was still segregated. At Fort Leonard Wood, building 2101 was designated for black members to use for its Black Officers’ Club.
“In the army we’re extremely concerned with, where we can, preserving our cultural and historic heritage,” Col. Eric Towns, the Garrison Commander at Ft. Leonard Wood, said.
Ft. Leonard Wood has refurbished its own Black Officer’s Club building and is naming it after one of its members during the war, Army Staff Sergeant Samuel Countee, a notable artist.
He was assigned to paint the 10-foot-long mural that hangs still in the building today, about 75 years later.
This historic Black Officers’ Club is just one of two left in the Army’s inventory.
Towns says the segregation of the Armed Forces is a significant portion of America’s history.
“It’s not something that we should just forget,” he said. “It’s significant and we want to have it as a showcase where anybody can come in, see that mural, see how this building was used during the 1940’s and really reflect on where we’ve been and, more importantly, where we’ve come to.”
Towns says it’s something they thought needed to be maintained, instead of demolishing it.
The memorial will be on Tuesday.