SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Dressed in period uniforms, members of the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association honored veterans Nov. 11 at the San Antonio National Cemetery during the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Commemorative Ceremony.

The Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the history of Buffalo Soldiers and Black Indian scouts and their contributions in settling the western U.S. in the late 1800s.

According to the Buffalo Soldier National Museum website, in 1866, through an act of Congress, legislation was adopted to create six African-American Army units, identified as the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st infantry regiments. Later the four infantry regiments were reorganized to form the 24th and 25th infantry regiments.

"Throughout our history African-American Soldiers have fought bravely in every American war since the Revolutionary War," said Gill Gallo, director of the San Antonio National Cemetery.

"Even during the time of slavery and racial discrimination these warriors fought bravely for their country," Gallo said.

"The Cheyenne warriors nicknamed the Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry 'Wild Buffalo,' out of respect for their superior fighting abilities, hence the name 'Buffalo Soldier,'" Gallo explained.

The guest speaker for the ceremony was Maj. Michael Burns, minority admissions officer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"My story is simple. It is a story lined with opportunities that only existed because trailblazers, like the ones who are on this field, decided to stand up and tackle challenges many deemed unconquerable," Burns said.

Burns described his childhood and how his mother helped him develop into the person he is today.

"She reminded me every day that the only person who would stop me from achieving my goals and my dreams was me," he said.

He also credited a sergeant major in his Junior ROTC program for teaching him how to present himself.

"He taught me that no matter what, you are a man first and that respect is not owed, it is earned," Burns said. "He allowed me to see that there are things out there that are worth defending and possibly dying for, and that there is no profession more honorable then that of a Soldier."

"My Soldier's story is our Soldiers' story," he said. "I am a product of the blood, sweat and tears of those who have come before me, a product of the men and women who are buried right here in this cemetery."

There are 281 identified Buffalo Soldiers interred at the San Antonio National Cemetery.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16