The sacrifices made by Black servicemen and women have often gone overlooked. To ensure their contributions are celebrated and remembered, NBC reported a new monument in Buffalo, New York, has been created to honor the heroism and bravery displayed by African Americans across the five military branches.
The commemorative project, dubbed the African American Veterans Monument, was designed to amplify the unsung legacies of those who served in the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, the Navy, the Coast Guard and those who are current active-duty members. Nestled in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the nation’s biggest naval park, the monument consists of 12 black 10-foot-tall pillars, symbolizing the twelve U.S. wars African American soldiers fought in and how they served as pillars in the military.
The top of each tower illuminates to represent candles families would light in their windows for their beloved soldiers. It was conceptualized and designed by Jonathan Casey and the Solid 716 firm. The monument also encompasses an interactive exhibit that shares the narratives of Black soldiers and their families, detailing the harrowing racism and discrimination they endured.
The monument—the first in history dedicated to Black U.S. veterans—was unveiled two days after the anniversary of the initial Emancipation Proclamation. The ceremony was attended by elected officials, military service members, and veterans.
“The African American Veterans Monument will enhance visitors’ understanding of the diversity in the armed forces throughout American history,” Robin Hodges, who serves as the African American Veterans Monument vice chairman, shared in a statement. “Visitors will experience a shared history which includes significant achievements of African Americans in all branches of the armed forces.”
Over the past few years, long overdue efforts have been made to pay homage to Black veterans. In March, it was announced the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion—the U.S. Army’s only all-Black women unit to serve during WWII—would be bestowed with a Congressional Gold Medal. Last year a bill was proposed to award the Harlem Hellfighters with a Congressional Gold Medal, more than a century after their service. “They never lost an inch of ground, suffered many injuries but never had anyone taken as a POW,” shared Congressman Tom Suozzi, who introduced the bill. “A great failure of this country is how we treated African Americans throughout our history, and this is just another example of it.”