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‘Interpretive Signs’ Coming to Clarendon War Memorial

The Clarendon War Memorial, which honors Arlington residents killed in major armed conflicts, is getting new signs to explain its significance and context.

The memorial, located on the opposite end of Clarendon Central Park from the Metro station entrance, has generated some controversy in recent years due to it separately listing the two “colored” troops from Arlington killed during World War I.

On Saturday the Arlington County Board voted to accept a $2,000 grant from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to fund new interpretive signs.

“The original 1931 plaque on the memorial lists the names of the 13 Arlington servicemen who died in WWI, and segregates the names by race,” said county spokeswoman Gina Wimpey. “A main goal of this interpretive project will be to provide historic context for the segregation of the names, as well as information about Arlington during each of the time periods and conflicts represented on the memorial.”

The new interpretive signs will ring the memorial. The first is expected to be unveiled later this fall.

“The proposed interpretive panels related to the Clarendon War Memorial will be installed in phases, with the first panel focusing on the history of the memorial itself,” said Wimpey. “That panel is planned (pending the final fabrication and installation schedule) to be unveiled at a Centennial Armistice Day event to be held Nov. 11 and hosted by the American Legion, in partnership with Arlington County and Arlington’s WWI Commemoration Task Force.”

Some have called for the original plaque to be removed and replaced due to its segregation of African American service members, though task force member (and former county treasurer) Frank O’Leary argued on the 26 Square Miles podcast earlier this year that it would have been considered progressive at the time for the way it was designed.

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