BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Black History has been made in many areas, and that includes the battlefield. Now, that history is coming into sharp focus in a unique museum.
The Maryland National Guard’s fifth regiment armory in Baltimore looks like a stone fortress.
But inside, it was invaded by a special group of guard veterans. Their objective was Maryland’s Museum of Military History and a new exhibit.
“I’m glad they finally put it in the museum,” says Nathaniel Pope, 231st Guard Veteran.
The story begins in 1882 with the Monument City guard, a segregated unit that first went into battle during World War I.
And because the French were running low on soldiers:
“The French asked the United States, all the black men that you have that you’re not going to use, we can use them,” says Pope.
“To me it really does set the foundation for a number of our units, that I don’t think we really think about anymore. I think we need to learn a lot more about the history,” Major General Linda Singh with the Maryland National Guard.
As the unit evolved into the 231st transportation truck battalion:
“June 20th is when I joined them. Darn if I known a war was going to break out five days later,” says 231st Guard veteran Louis Diggs.
In 1950, the still segregated Korean War hauled everything from troops to refugees.
“My heart has always been with this unit because so many people are just not aware of what African-Americans have done, especially militarily for city, state and country,” says Diggs.
If part of the guard’s history had been overlooked, it isn’t anymore — at least not here. The Maryland Museum of Military History took three decades to assemble. A formal opening is set for April.