After the cannons were fired, and the flag was taken down, Seattle Army base Fort Lawton was officially decommissioned this past Saturday. It was here that in 1944, 28 African American soldiers were court marshaled for allegedly hanging an Italian prisoner of war. In 2008, Fort Lawton was also the setting where the remaining surviviving soldiers were honored after their convictions were lifted, because they hadn’t been given a fair trial.
On Saturday afternoon’s decommission ceremony, politicians and generals said their goodbyes and many people attending took the opportunity to tour the old fort in Magnolia. Fort Lawton was built in 1901, to keep an eye out on the surging labor boom. The federal government still owns the fort property, but the City of Seattle will have the opportunity to take over. The City has already claimed ownership of a chunk of the original Fort Lawton property, including what is now Discovery Park. Believe it or not the government has already tried to sell Fort Lawton to the city of Seattle once previously in 1938 for $1; City declined due to lack of funding for the property upkeep. Maybe they’ll have better luck this year.