WASHINGTON, DC — Several elected officials in Washington, D.C. commemorated Veterans Day by rededicating a plaque that was installed in the John A. Wilson building in 1942, but had been damaged and missing for over two decades.
“What we are unveiling today is another step in restoring, bringing back, celebrating the history of this building and of this city,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.
The plaque, also called a Roll of Honor, lists the names of the nearly 1,900 District employees that served in the military during World War Two. It is made up of five large black glass tablets with the names of those who served. Above, there is a long tablet with an eagle with outstretched wings explaining the meaning of the plaque. However, the eagle tablet was not with the five other tablets when the plaque was rediscovered.
‘D.C. City Hall, there’s 400 people who work here. So it’s this building filled full five times of employees who went to fight World War Two for D.C.,” said Josh Gibson, public information officer for the D.C. Council, who was instrumental in solving the mystery of plaque.
The plaque was removed during the 1990s when the building was undergoing renovations and placed in a closet. At some point, the plaque was damaged and broke into several pieces. When it was rediscovered in 2009, no one knew the significance of the plaque because the eagle tablet was missing.
Gibson was not able to find the original tablet, but through some internet sleuthing, was able to figure out the history of the plaque and its significance.
"We ended up finding some newspaper articles that show when the memorial was originally dedicated, when it was updated, and we also found an additional photo of the memorial,” said Gibson.
From the photos, artists were able to make a replica of the eagle tablet.
"We’re still hoping that at some point someone will find it in their basement or their backyard and we’ll be able to put the real one back up,” added Gibson.
Ward 7 Councilmember-elect Vincent Gray, who was Council Chairman when the plaque was rediscovered, hopes the next step will be to connect with relatives and descendants of those whose names are on the wall.
"There’s got to be so many other people up here who have that kind of relationship to the folks who serve with distinction and whose names appear on this plaque that’s now been restored,” said Gray.
The plaque will be reinstalled on the ground floor of the Wilson building once the wall has been reinforced. The hope is that will happen in the next few weeks.