In recognition of Black History Month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif) has introduced a bipartisan resolution to honor the “Buffalo Soldiers,” African-American soldiers who served in the United States Army following the Civil War and made invaluable contributions to the fabric of our nation’s history.
Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the United States Army allowed African-Americans to serve in segregated units. Two of these units, the 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry, produced the “Buffalo Soldiers.” The soldiers received their nickname from Native Americans as a testament to their fearlessness in battle. In spite of being allocated inadequate resources and facing prejudice, the Buffalo Soldiers earned more Congressional Medals of Honor and had the lowest desertion rate of any unit in the Army. Among the Buffalo Soldiers was Col. Charles Young who would later ride with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Roughriders” in their famed charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Buffalo Soldiers for their heroism and serving their country with distinction,” Harris said. “Their contributions to our National Parks and our military deserve to be honored for generations to come.”
In addition to Harris, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) serving as the Republican co-lead.
Here is the text of the Senate resolution:
Whereas, On July 28, 1866, after the conclusion of the Civil War, African American men were allowed to serve in join segregated units of the United States Army; by an act of the United States Congress,
Whereas, comprised of former slaves and former black Civil War soldiers, the Buffalo Soldiers were the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the first African Americans to serve in the United States Army during peacetime.
Whereas, Buffalo Soldiers have made many significant military contributions to the history of the United States, and have fought to preserve and protect our Nation;
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder with their white counterparts in many battles and were instrumental in the exploration and settlement of western lands;
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers participated in the tragic history of removing Native Americans from their land;
Whereas, the Native Americans of the Midwest nicknamed the members of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments “Buffalo Soldiers” for their bravery and courage, as well as the jackets of buffalo fur that they wore during the cold winter months,
Whereas, with the conclusion of the Indian Wars in the 1890s, the Buffalo Soldiers rode alongside Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War;
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers were some of the very first park rangers in the Roosevelt administration’s newly created National Park Service; including Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks;
Whereas, Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th, 10th, 24th, and 25th Regiments served in Yosemite and nearby Sequoia National Parks, helping to arrest poachers, fight forest fires; and preserve our nation’s national resources;
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers served nobly as park rangers, constructing one of the nation’s first arboretum in Yosemite National Park, and clearing miles of forests, building trails roads into the national parks for all Americans’ enjoyment; and helping to build the first trail to Mount Whitney’s summit in Sequoia National Park,
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers were subjected to racial prejudice, but continued to serve honorably and bravely in the United States Army, and continued to fulfill their duties with pride and distinction;
Whereas, over 200,000 African-Americans served in World War I and more than 1 million served in World War II earning a reputation for being courageous and daring;
Whereas, during World War II, members of the Buffalo Soldiers branched out and formed into famous units, including the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the Fighter “Red Tails” Group;
Whereas, over the course of the Buffalo Soldiers’ existence, 23 men received the highest military distinction, the Congressional Medal of Honor, more than any other regiment;
Whereas, in 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 which stipulated equal treatment and opportunity for all African-American service members, bringing an end to the Buffalo Soldiers;
Whereas, Buffalo Soldiers have honorably answered the call to duty, serving with great valor and distinction in America’s armed forces.
Whereas, the Buffalo Soldiers are a significant part of American history;
Whereas, there are currently over 20 chapters of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Association in the United States and 1 in Germany:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) honors the dedication and courage of the Buffalo Soldiers;
(2) recognizes the Buffalo Soldiers’ legacy and their contributions to the National Park System legacy, military history in the United States and throughout the world.