Five years of work led to this momentous occasion. When the project to clear the T.J. Wilson and St. Luke Masonic Cemeteries began, a lot of hard labor was needed to clear the overgrowth. Wednesday, the history that is contained the cemeteries was celebrated as a project that began as a campaign promise reached its fulfillment.
Supervisor Wayman Newell describes how the idea first came about, "When I was campaigning, Miss Annie Ramsey asked me if I was elected to think about the community, like cleaning up a cemetery, and she gave this one for an illustration."
The two cemeteries combined make up the largest African American cemetery in Lauderdale County It is the final resting place of former slaves as well as fallen American heroes.
"To me, it showed that people are concerned about our veterans that have been forgotten," says Newell. "To me, it was about the veterans."
Ninety-six veterans are laid to rest here from five conflicts: stretching from the Spanish-American War to Vietnam. Judge Vel Young was the guest speaker, and also has family here. She emphasized the importance of celebrating this as a community.
"It's a momentous occasion, as I mentioned earlier, not only for my family, but for the city of Meridian, everyone who has family members here should be honored that they are being celebrated today with this historic marker, which means that this will go on and live beyond all of us," says Judge Young.
The historic marker is actually on the border of the two cemeteries.