Forgotten Soldiers

February 1, 2006 by  
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Museum honors the legacy of African-American soldiers

Founded in 2000 by Paul J. Matthews, a Vietnam Veteran and African-American military historian, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum strives to preserve the history and honor of the brave African-American soldiers in our country’s history. An often overlooked group, the soldiers’ military contributions from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War are spotlighted in this one-of-a-kind museum with interactive exhibits.

Exhibit of honor
This unique museum displays more than 2,000 artifacts chronicling the heroism of the Buffalo Soldiers. Visitors will find a plethora of paintings, swords, memorabilia, uniforms and rifles that provide a unique look into the history and lives of the soldiers, from their role in combat to their contributions to settling various frontier areas. The pieces are expertly grouped by time periods, including the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, Vietnam, WWI and WWII.

Forming the Buffalo Soldiers
In 1866, Congress adopted legislation that created six African-American Army units: Two cavalry and four infantry regiments were formed. Consisting of former slaves and Civil War veterans, they were the first African-American professional soldiers in a peacetime army. Many of the white officers in the Army disapproved of having African-Americans serve in the regular Army and made life as difficult as possible for them. Nonetheless, they persevered and became some of the Army’s most effective fighting units.

The African-American soldiers were dubbed “Buffalo Soldiers” by Cheyenne warriors in 1867. Though the exact reason for the nickname is not known, many feel it is because of the soldiers’ short curly black hair, heavy buffalo robes or surprising stamina and courage. Serving in the harshest and most remote posts at the time, their duties were expansive, from subduing Mexican revolutionaries to exploring the Southwest, from controlling hostile Native Americans to stringing telegraph lines. Their presence cannot be ignored in any American war, since they fought in every one, including the Indian Wars of the American West, Spanish American War of 1898, World War I and World War II.

Reaching out
In an effort to honor the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, the Buffalo Soldier Museum strives to teach as much of the community as possible through the many educational activities and opportunities. From parades to lectures, creation of a youth drill team to high school ROTC summer internships, the museum reaches out to every member of the community.

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, -1834 Southmore, (713) 942-8920, ?

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