As resounding calls rise for monuments honoring Black history heroes, officials announced the construction of an African American Veterans monument in Buffalo, N.Y. The wait for the first national Black veterans monument has been a long one, a veteran said Saturday at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, where the commemoration will be erected in 2018.
“It’s about time, it’s about time,” Walter J. Cole, one Vietnam veteran, told WIVB. “I feel wonderful about being here. A lot of times history is buried and you don’t know things and it’s wonderful that the city of Buffalo is going to be the founding place for this.”
“This is the first time in our country that a monument to honor African-American veterans from every war is being put together in one place,” Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said to The Buffalo News. “I believe it will attract national attention. This has never been done before. We are literally honoring every African-American veteran since 1775 when the Revolutionary War started.”
Millions of Black soldiers’ accomplishments in all five branches of the military, especially during the most treacherous wars, were neglected by mainstream America, a fact that motivated officials to push for the monument’s creation.
“We’re here today because there were men and women who were told and asked why are you here, we can do this without you,” Darius Pridgen, council president for the city of Buffalo, said. “But they really could not do it without you.”
Though a step in the right direction, the monument cannot erase a poignant history of Black soldiers facing malice in the military. “We have fought in every war that this country has participated in and we have been mistreated,” Cole recalled.
The monument, featuring 12 black concrete pillars at 10 feet tall and 3 feet wide, will be symbolic of 12 U.S. wars. Officials are looking to allocate $800,000 for the project’s completion. Those who donate to the project will receive an engraved paver that will line the walkways of the monument for $250.00, according to WIVB.