Veteran William Harvey Zeigler, Who Has Spent His Life In Public Service, Turns 102

Veteran William Harvey Zeigler, Who Has Spent His Life In Public Service, Turns 102

Born in 1920, Zeigler continues to be a community and civic activist, mentor, and historian.

William Harvey Zeigler who was born in 1920 turned 102 on Friday, reports 11 Alive. The native of Damascus is well-known for his years of public service and his passionate fight for equality and justice. The veteran started his journey with his stint in the U.S. Army during World War II in the early '40s and later joined the Montgomery County NAACP. While growing up, Zeigler faced many instances of racial discrimination. Between 1920 and 1946, these included numerous instances where he was not allowed to eat at food counters, sit at the soda fountains, attend theaters, bowling alleys, public schools, doctor’s offices, or community clubs according to Montgomery County.



In 1941, he was drafted into the United States Army where he served as a private first class in the 329th segregated unit, where his job was to protect soldiers' supplies on the front lines. “I wanted to be patriotic. I wanted to support the United States and the democracy,” Zeigler told MyMCMedia. “Not only that, but this is a wonderful country to live in and I feel like I served my country well.”

Source: www.montgomerycountymd.gov


Over the years, he has also struck down job discrimination and worked towards promoting the hiring of African Americans in Government agencies like Montgomery County Public Schools and in the Montgomery County Fire Department. “I’m still trying, you don’t give up,” Zeigler previously said. “If you give up then you haven’t accomplished too much, but I feel like what my sister and I have done in Damascus and for the County and the State, if you don’t work together and try to unite together, it's downhill. I’ve tried all these 101 years, and I feel like that’s the only way to do it, is to unite and talk from the heart, try, and try again. If you fail once, don’t give up, keep trying.”



Zeigler and his sister co-founded an event called "The Evening in Paris" in the late 1950s which allowed African-Americans to meet with federal, state, and local elected officials. He also played an important role as a youth director that helped organize the 1963 March on Washington. His passion and commitment towards civil and human rights have earned him several awards over the years, and an induction into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame. “If you don’t get out and fight for what you believe in then you get run over. You have to fight and sweat tears and blood to get what you want, freedom,” said Zeigler. “If you don’t, you won’t get any kind of equality.” Happy birthday to an incredible, resilient soul!



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