At the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the nation's first African American Veterans Monument that honors all Black service members for their contributions in all U.S. wars across all military branches was erected, reports Spectrum News 1.
The monument preserves “the legacy and commemorates the military service of African American veterans who served in the 12 major U.S. wars since 1775, as well as in peacetime, all amid extreme challenges such as slavery, segregation, and discrimination.”
The interactive exhibit features a virtual reality tour along with historical information on the conflicts and personal experiences as told by the African American veterans and their families.
Jonathan Casey and the team at Solid 716 designed the moment
Last Saturday, elected officials and local leaders gathered for a ceremony to celebrate the monument's unveiling.
“This dedication ceremony is the culmination of many years of work for this volunteer organization,” said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “It would not have been possible without our sponsors and supporters. Like everyone else, we’ve had our setbacks due to COVID, but I’m extremely proud and excited that this day has finally come to honor our veterans that have been such an integral part of our nation’s history.”
Dr. Brenda Moore, Professor of Sociology at the University of Buffalo, believes the monument will educate visitors about the often neglected contributions of Black men and women who served in the military.
"This monument gives us an opportunity to not only commemorate, but also to educate ourselves and future generations about the contributions and sacrifices African Americans have made to the American ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice, not just for some, but for all,” said Moore.
Robin Hodges, the vice chairman of the African American Veterans Monument, noted that the monument is an excellent way to honor Black veterans such as 90-year-old Ronal Bassham. At 17, Bassham joined the Air Force and served in the Vietnam War. Bassham, who retired in 1975, attended the ceremony.
“The African American Veterans Monument will enhance visitors’ understanding of the diversity in the armed forces throughout American history,” added Hodges. “Visitors will experience a shared history which includes significant achievements of African Americans in all branches of the armed forces.”
The African American Veterans Monument joins others dedicated to Hispanic American military veterans, Polish American military veterans and veterans of the Persian Gulf wars located in the Buffalo and Erie County's Naval & Military Park.