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Memories of and hopes for Fort Monroe

August 23-25, 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in North America.

They arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia, a place where I lived in junior high. Our house was inside the moat. I loved climbing the hill behind my house and looking at the moat. It was the only fort left in the U.S. that actually had water in its moat. I used to walk through the sally port and across the pedestrian bridge (in the photo by B.Payden Photography), unless, of course, my big brother was chasing me on our way to the school bus! Check out Payden’s Photography at:
https://bpaydenphotography.wordpress.com/category/history/fort-monroe/

Now, my 60-year-old memories are changed forever by this knowledge of the beginnings of European enslavement of Africans in the New World. I am deeply sorry to all those who were affected by this gruesome time in our history.

And I look forward to ongoing future commemorations honoring the many roles African men and women filled in building America—clearing the land, tilling the plantations, harvesting the crops, building the structures, developing solutions to difficult problems the new world presented, and so much more.

My hope is that their stories, along with stories of privation of the African population, will be told in American history classes across the country, so we will all have a deeper understanding of our history. And a commitment Never Again to Allow It Happen.

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Effective immediately and in accordance with federal, state, and local orders, Fort Monroe is restricting access to certain outdoor amenities and activities. 


Areas of closures and suspended activities/amenities include:

  • Beaches—access will only be allowed for walking or exercising. 
    No sunbathing, swimming, or gathering in groups will be allowed.
  • All basketball courts and playground areas are now closed
  • Fishing piers at Engineer Wharf and Finger Pier are closed. 
  • All public programs and tours scheduled through June 10, 2020 are cancelled. 

Continued closures include:

  • Casemate Museum
  • Fort Monroe Authority Main Office
  • Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center
  • Fort Monroe Authority Leasing Office
  • Fort Monroe National Monument Headquarters
  • Old Point Comfort Marina


These steps are being taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to protect public health. Guests who choose to visit Fort Monroe during this time are encouraged to adhere to the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. As services are also limited during this time, we also urge visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out (meaning bringing your own hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, and trash bags to take with you as you leave Fort Monroe). This will help keep Fort Monroe safe for all to enjoy.