On April 22, 1980, 13 government officials were executed on South Beach in Monrovia as a result of a military coup d’état that toppled the regime of President William R. Tolbert Jr., who was assassinated earlier on April 12.
In 2004, the families of the deceased officials formed a coalition titled “The April 22nd Memorial Group,” a dedicated to keeping the memory, contributions, and patriotism of their loved ones alive. Their contribution to country through their hard work, their love of country shown by their overwhelming and selfless response to the duties imposed upon them in the public service portfolios they held continue to be the impetus and motivation of the group, its statement reads.
The ideals of these men are the ones that made an impact in the development of Liberia in the past, and will make an impact again “if and only if we continue to hold them in high esteem, and pass them forward to our current generation and to generations unborn,” according to the statement.
In commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the assassination and execution of so many brave men, “we the family of these great men invite the Liberian public to a memorial and remembrance ceremony of this historical event on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.”
The 13 Slain officials on April 22nd 1980 included
Cyril A. Bright, Joseph J. F. Chesson, Sr., C. Cecil Dennis, Jr., Richard A. Henries, Sr., Charles D. B. King, and D. Franklin Neal, Sr.
Others were P. Clarence Parker III, James T. Phillips, Jr., James A. A. Pierre, John W. F. Sherman, Frank J. Stewart, Sr., Frank E. Tolbert, Sr., and E. Reginald Townsend.
Also to be honored are former President William R. Tolbert, Jr., Ex-Commander Spurgeon Capehart, Major General Emmett W. Cooper, Commander Varney E. Dempster, Captain Gabriel Moore, General Charles E. Railey, Jr., H. Carey Thomas, A. Benedict Tolbert, and Lieutenant “Railroad” Vesseley.
Meanwhile the 35th Anniversary Memorial Thanksgiving Program will, among other things, include wreath laying and a prayer service on Wednesday, April 22 at 10:00 A.M. at the Memorial Site in Palm Grove Cemetery, Center Street.
A Memorial Thanksgiving Worship Celebration will also be hosted on Wednesday, April 22 at 12:00 P.M. at the First Presbyterian Church, Broad and Johnson Streets.