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Buffalo Soldiers honored with highway naming, Colorado Springs monument

Buffalo Soldier re-enactors ride horses July 24, 2016, during Fort D.A. Russell Days, the annual F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., open house.

MALCOLM MAYFIELD/U.S. AIR FORCE

By CHHUN SUN | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: July 30, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Two years ago, a group of Colorado Springs residents came together because they believed an important part of American black history was being ignored.

That history involves the Buffalo Soldiers, a black military unit credited with helping develop the American West after the Civil War.

On Thursday, the group took a huge step forward by introducing the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Committee during a public ceremony at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center and unveiling a monument at Memorial Park detailing the black soldiers' accomplishments.

The monument, located at the park's Circle of Honor display, features the names of 23 Buffalo Soldier Medal of Honor recipients. The unveiling came during a year that marked the 150th anniversary of the formation of the historic military group.

"As a result of the dedication, the perseverance and, I might say, the enthusiasm of the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Committee, Colorado Springs residents and visitors alike will now be able to learn more about this dying group," said Mayor John Suthers.

To further keep the soldiers' accomplishments in people's memory, U.S. 24 between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs will be named the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Highway.

Congress established the Buffalo Soldiers, which included two cavalry and four infantry regiments, in 1866. In addition to serving on battlefields, the soldiers worked as peacekeepers, mapped the West and protected the U.S. border and national parks.

The Buffalo Soldiers are "part of history that hasn't been told that much because normally what you've seen on TV and in movies, you never see the black cavalrymen," said Dennis Moore, a member of the Buffalo Soldier Memorial Committee. "But there were a lot of them out here doing a lot things, laying roads, laying telegraph and keeping the peace."

"It is the goal of the Buffalo Soldiers Community Memorial Committee to educate the community on a somewhat unknown piece of Western history and have it be the first such memorial in the state of Colorado and to provide a positive historical image of the Negro soldiers' role in Western history," the committee wrote.

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©2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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