Sav­ing Mont­ford Point Marines chap­ter hall is a wor­thy en­deavor

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - OPINION -

It’s an up­hill bat­tle, no doubt, for the African-Amer­i­can vet­er­ans who are try­ing might­ily to save their South Side meet­ing place.

The clock is tick­ing for the Chicago chap­ter of the Mont­ford Point Ma­rine As­so­ci­a­tion, though not as fast as days ago. The real es­tate firm that bought the as­so­ci­a­tion’s tax debt on its En­gle­wood chap­ter hall has given the group an ex­ten­sion un­til May 31 — rather than the ini­tial Feb. 1 — to raise $75,000 to re­deem the debt.

If the Mont­ford Point Marines fail, they will lose a build­ing that’s been a gath­er­ing place and com­mu­nity re­source for 35 years.

And if the vets suc­ceed — and it’s a long shot — they still will face an­other big bat­tle: rais­ing yet more money to pay for long-de­ferred re­pairs on the crum­bling build­ing.

Suc­cess for the vets de­pends on a strug­gling $200,000 GoFundMe cam­paign, which has raised just $17,838 since it was launched in mid-Novem­ber 2018. “The do­na­tions are not com­ing in. We don’t have the sphere of in­flu­ence we once had,” Sharon StokesParry, the chap­ter’s pres­i­dent, told the Sun­Times last week.

There’s more to this story than sen­ti­ment. It’s about sav­ing his­tory.

The Mont­ford Point Ma­rine As­so­ci­a­tion was formed to honor the first AfricanAmer­i­cans to serve in the U.S. Ma­rine Corps, dur­ing World War II, when the en­tire mil­i­tary was seg­re­gated. Four of the “Orig­i­nal 400,” as those first black Marines were called, are ac­tive in the Chicago chap­ter, which is open to vet­er­ans from all branches of the Armed Forces.

In 2011, Pres­i­dent Obama awarded the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal to ev­ery mem­ber of the Mont­ford Point Marines, liv­ing and de­ceased.

Amer­ica pays spe­cial at­ten­tion to its vet­er­ans twice a year, with parades and speeches in their honor.

A more sub­stan­tial way to honor them, es­pe­cially those who fought for Amer­ica when Amer­ica wouldn’t fight for them, is to keep their story alive.

Con­tribut­ing to the GoFundMe cam­paign (at gofundme.com/raise-the-roof-hous­ing-fund) is one way to do just that.

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