I grew up with a father who is a Navy Veteran. He would attend annual Navy reunions and almost all of his closest friends were veterans and from a child to my wedding day they have been there cheering me on. As much as I thought I knew about all things African American Veteran related, I was beyond surprised to know that I knew nothing about the Montford Point Marines who were a group of 20,000 African American Marines received basic training at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949 which is where Jacksonville, NC is located.
This southern military town stole my heart and I am sure will steal yours. If you are a history buff and love learning about African American history , Jacksonville, NC should be added to your travel list and here is an African American trail to follow as well.
Here are a few of my favorite places from my spring trip to Jacksonville, NC. Hope you enjoy!
Images from Mika Brie Photography and VisitJacksonvilleNC.com
Montford Point Marine Memorial
Montford Point Marine Memorial: The newest edition to Lejeune Memorial Gardens, the Montford Point Marine Memorial honors the Montford Point Mariners, African American Marines who bravely served their country during WWII. These Marines were the first African Americans to serve in the US Marine Corps. The Montford Point Marine Museum, located on the hallowed grounds at Montford Point Camp in the East Wing Building, was established to preserve the legacy of these brave men. Museum information is available online at Montford Point Marine Museum. Located at the original site of the Montford Point Camp—then part of the growing Camp Lejeune. It was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson (known as Camp Johnson) in the 70s after Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson, one of the first African-Americans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and one of the first African American drill instructors in the U.S. Marine Corps. It was the first United States military installation to be named after an African American. If you would like to donate to this Museum you can do so here: http://www.mpmamemorial.org/ (Visitors would need to call the museum and get their clearance in advance)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the second largest Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the nation and one of only a few that lists all the names of the fallen. The Memorial includes an entry wall with symbols for all branches of the military, a walkway and bridge with French design, a glass wall with etched names of those MIA, POW or dead, a dome, and a fountain.
Freedom Fountain: Built with community donations from the City and County, the Freedom Fountain stands at the gateway to downtown Jacksonville and honors those who have passed through Onslow County while in service to our country. The design features a disappearing edge fountain basin framed by a curved wall with arches and large medallions representing the 5 armed services. Flags and fountain jets representing federal, state, and local governments are featured as well as water jets to represent each of the 50 states. Five flag poles were added in 2015 and proudly fly the flags of all branches of the military. The Freedom Fountain is located at New Bridge Street and Johnson Boulevard.
Lejeune Memorial Gardens: Lejeune Memorial Gardens is home to the Beirut Memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center. Lejeune Memorial Gardens is located at Montford Landing Road and Lejeune Boulevard, the gateway of downtown Jacksonville. In spring of 2015, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the Museum of the Marine. Currently, at what will be part of the entryway for the museum, sits a large Eagle, Globe, and Anchor statue over a reflective pond. Check out this guide for your next trip!
White Oak River Bistro: The White Oak River Bistro is a unique dining experience offering European cuisine, specializing in Italian, in a beautiful waterfront setting. The restaurant is located in Historic downtown Swansboro, NC, with a view overlooking the White Oak River as it flows into Bogue Sound.
Marrakesh: Want to try something different, Marrakesh is a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant you won’t want to miss. A perfectly casual place to eat after a long day of sightseeing.
Sarah and Jessie: A Black Southern Belle owned fashion boutique, this store is not one to miss. I picked up some great summer items and a great price. This Fashion Design graduate came back home to fulfill her fashion dreams and I was so honored to stop by the shop in Jacksonville, NC.
Jacksonville, NC Antique Mall: If you love antique shopping make sure to stop by the Jacksonville, NC Antique Mall. North Carolina is home to great furniture and this a great destination for a design lover!