By Carol DavisFebruary 6, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 6, 2009) -- The Army rededicated a Buffalo Soldier display in the Pentagon Thursday and kicked off its observance of African American History Month.
The ceremony was more than just a rededication of the 10th Cavalry statuette, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who hosted the event. He said it was a ceremony to honor the invaluable legacy of commitment, pride and sacrifice African Americans have made in the U.S. Army.
"This is a time for all of us to celebrate the past, the present and the future contributions of all African Americans to this nation," Casey said.
The ceremony began with a Soldier whose grandfather rode with the 9th Cavalry as a Buffalo Soldier in the early 1900s. Sgt. 1st Class Craig Browne spoke of his family's strong lineage, pride of military service, and dedication to country.
"The story of the Buffalo Soldier is often not told and they are often not given the credit they deserve," said Browne, who currently serves with the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort Gillem, Ga.
Browne's pride for his family legacy was equaled by his pride for country and service in the Army.
"Sometimes it's rough, sometimes it's easy, but it's all been beautiful and if I had a chance to do it all again, I would join the same Army, I would worship the same God, and I would serve the same country," Browne said.
As a way of honoring the Soldiers of yesterday as well as the Soldiers of today, Sgt. Maj. Jeffery J. Wells of G3/5/7 brought some special guests to the ceremony from the National Association of Buffalo Soldier and Troopers Motorcycle Club. It is their mission is to teach the history and uphold the patrimony of the Buffalo Soldier.
"We believe that in order to brighten the future, you must first illuminate the past," said Thomas Costley, national president of the association and a retired Air Force chief master sergeant.
The original Buffalo Soldier monument stands at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and was dedicated on July 25, 1992, with involvement of Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The 10th Cavalry was formed and activated at Fort Leavenworth in 1867, and some contingent of the Buffalo Soldiers remained there until World War II.
Buffalo Soldiers were the first African Americans to serve in the military during peacetime. In 1866, Congress approved the formation of six Black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th 40th and 41st Infantry.
In 1869 the military down- sized and the four infantry units were combine into two, the 24th and 25th. In about 1867 the Indians gave them the name Buffalo Soldiers, reportedly as a result of the buffalo skin coats they were issued and their prowess on the battlefield.
Remembering that heritage and history, Casey took the opportunity to remind the audience how far the country and Army have come in the 17 years since the dedication of the original Buffalo Soldier monument.
"Our diversity is the strength of our Army and our Army is the strength of our nation," said Casey.