Over 172 veterans that rest in the Prince Hall Fraternal Cemetery were honored Sunday with a newly commemorated military memorial.

Community members gathered in the Waxahachie cemetery to celebrate the dedication of the monument that took two years to design and fundraise over $9,000.

The memorial consists of soldier's boots, rifle and helmet centered in front of nine flags that represent each branch of the U.S. military along with a Prisoners of War flag, as well as an American and Texas flag.

At the base of each flag pasted on red cinder blocks are the emblems of each branch along with a gold plate with donors' names inscribed. Two brick columns with white eagle statues on the top mark the entrance of the monument. A path of cement —provided by Acker Construction Co. — guides visitors to each flag.

Other donations were provided by Rolio Thompson, Stephen Flowers, Spencer Hervey, Michael Thibodeaux, Eddie Johnson, Jr. Addison Alexander, Sr. Vertima and Joe Dumas, Carlos Banks, Larry Lowe, Jr., Zakat Temple, Stephen V. Hunt, Live Stone Lodge and Walter Biggins.

"I praise God for them doing that and feeling comfortable feeling they were part of this dream," said Ellis County African American Hall of Fame Executive Director Dr. Jamal Rasheed.

Rasheed conjured up the idea of recognizing veterans in the cemetery two years ago and shared that idea with his son, Jibril Rasheed, who is responsible for the design and final vision of the memorial.

The cemetery, just east of downtown Waxahachie, consists of nearly 4,000 people — with only 2,880 recorded.

"There are people here who were never recognized," Rasheed explained. "African Americans are all over the world — all over the country — that are in places like this that aren't recognized."

Approximately 172 tombstones at Prince Hall Fraternal Cemetery verify individuals who served in the military. Rasheed noted the majority of men on site served in World War I or World War II and many more veterans without headstones are buried there as well.

"They served too," Rasheed emphasized. "They may not all be in a big national cemetery, but they all served our country well and deserve the same recognition that others do."

He continued, "Even though they were placed in this cemetery when segregation existed. So, this was the only place they could be placed."

Rasheed's five brothers all served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army, while he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at 26 years old. After eight months of active duty, Rasheed received an honorable discharge in 1977.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450