Long Knives honor Buffalo Soldier Legacy
February 26, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - Civilians and Soldiers of all ranks, ethnicities and backgrounds enthusiastically observed the Buffalo Soldier displays as Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech echoed softly in the background.
"Long Knife" Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hosted a Black History Month observance honoring the Legacy of the Buffalo Soldier in the Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial Dining Facility, Feb. 19.
The Army started to established African-American regiments in 1866. The members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment were given the nickname, "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Native American tribes they encountered in combat for their curly hair, skin color, and tenacious fighting spirit. The nickname Buffalo Soldier was later used to refer to all African American Soldiers who served in the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments as well as the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments.
"If it wasn't for the Buffalo Soldiers, the westward expansion would have been delayed, I believe 50 years," said retired Staff Sgt. Joe Glover, who currently works with The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum.
The Buffalo Soldiers duties included building railroads, forts, and securing locals from Native Americans.
Although the Buffalo Soldiers worked under adverse conditions, this did not discourage them; it only drove them to work harder.
"They had many hassles but that didn't deter them a lot, it actually made them stronger," said Glover. "They took pride in their uniform and strived to be all that they could be."
Aside from working with their fellow Soldiers, the Buffalo Soldiers maintained their high spirits and even helped civilians. The veteran also spoke of how Buffalo Soldiers encouraged their civilian friends by telling them, "You don't have to wander the streets; you too can be all that you can be."
The celebration consisted of Soldiers that watched this historical presentation and learned valuable information about the military history of the 9th Cavalry Regiment from the veteran guest speakers.
Retired Battalion Sgt. Major James Williams, who is the last of the Buffalo Soldiers, served in both the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments.
"It's an honor to have troops recognize something they've never seen before," said Williams.
Joining the Army at the age of 15, Williams said, "I always wanted to wear the uniform; I could see what pride stood for."
Williams, who served in the military for 21 years, fought in the Korean War as well as the Vietnam War.
"The uniform makes you who you are and you make it what it is," said Williams.
Williams dressed in his cavalry uniform with a buffalo patch on his left arm, airborne and ranger patch on his right, and a yellow stripe going down the side of his uniform pants added, "It (the uniform) shows you a pride you wouldn't had been able to see."
The audience watched as the reenactment of a Buffalo Soldier took place. Wayne DeHart, an actor with the Buffalo Soldier Museum, pulled out a cloth and started shining his U.S. engraved belt buckle as he relived the life of a Buffalo Soldier.
"All we were given was barracks and food," said DeHart. "We had wool uniforms that were hot, but we wore them proud."
Spc. Roderick Jackson, Bravo Co., 4th Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, had a new look on the military after the historian finished his speech. He now has a greater appreciation for the cavalry troops that fought before him.
"This impacted me tremendously," said Jackson. "To see them come here and educate Soldiers, it inspired me to be a great leader and one day I can tell my grandkids about this."
Staff Sgt. John Boone, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, ended the celebration by presenting two stones engraved "U" "S" to the guest speakers. The stones were once the base of the flagpole at Fort Stockton, Texas, a post where Buffalo Soldiers of troops from the 9th Cavalry and 10th Cavalry Regiments previously served. Additionally, the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment Association and 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division presented a remembrance of the 9th Cavalry's continued legacy, a 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Operation Iraqi Freedom Commemorative print.
As the Long Knives and the 1st Cavalry Division honored the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers during their Black History Month observance, they gained a greater appreciation for those tenacious troopers, their struggles, and their gallantry. All left the ceremony with great pride in carrying on the heritage and legacy that the Buffalo Soldiers have passed down for all Americans to uphold.