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Monument to Black military veterans set to be unveiled Saturday in Naval & Military Park
Buffalo News - 9/23/2022
Sep. 24—After six years of planning, a monument honoring African American military veterans will be unveiled at a ceremony from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
The $1.5 million monument is the first in the U.S. to honor Black military veterans who have fought in every American war to date, according to Warren K. Galloway, chairman of the committee that spearheaded the project.
"African Americans have been involved in every conflict that this country has been in, from the Revolutionary War to where we are now," Galloway said Friday in a telephone interview with The Buffalo News.
"Often African American soldiers were fighting two wars, the war against the enemy abroad and the war against racism and discrimination at home," he added.
Steven Tedesco, director of education at the Naval & Military Park, said the interactive monument's unveiling coincides with an exhibit, "Two Wars: The Road to Integration," that opened earlier this year at the military park museum. That exhibit focuses on World War II and the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces under an executive order signed by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1948.
"We're looking forward to tying a lot of that into the unveiling of the new monument and working together with the African American Veterans Monument group," Tedesco said.
"It's two separate things, but the timing worked out really well for when we opened this exhibit," he added.
The monument is composed of a dozen black concrete pillars, each 10 feet high and 3 feet wide, placed in a chronological sequence designed to correspond to the date of each of the country's 12 major military conflicts. The spacing between the pillars represents the peace time between each war.
The top of each pillar will illuminate, representing the candles that military families used to put in the windows of their homes as a beacon to guide a soldier home. The light from the pillars will glow continuously as an eternal reminder of the commitments made by African American military veterans.
The design for the monument was created by Jonathan Casey and the team at Solid 716.
It also will include audio capabilities within the monument that will work through a smartphone app to allow visitors to hear — as well as read — information included in the pillars.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes and Rep. Brian Higgins are scheduled to attend the unveiling.
Gen. Gary M. Brito, the commanding general of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command since Sept. 8, will be the keynote speaker at Saturday's ceremony.
The new monument will join others dedicated to Hispanic American military veterans, Polish American military veterans and veterans of the Persian Gulf wars located in the Naval & Military Park.
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