Call to Duty

I’ve been thinking about all the people who have answered the call to duty for the United States of America, about the sacrifices many of them have made for love of this country. I’ve spent a couple days thinking about a particular group of volunteers that were recruited into the military and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. There were 178,000 of them and 20.5 percent of them died. They fought with distinction and were highly decorated. Fifteen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

native american veterans in parade

There were 175 regiments of these men and they continued to fight for America until 1951. The regiments would eventually fight in approximately 177 conflicts, including the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, and the Indian Wars that took place just outside the window I’m looking through as I write. They served as park rangers and relief workers in hundreds of disasters. They were exactly the kinds of men and women we are celebrating on this Veterans’ Day.

bison in tall prairie grass in fall

Taken as a whole, they were officially called the United States Color Troops (USCT) but when they served here in the American West, they were nicknamed Buffalo Soldiers. The origins of that name are disputed. Some say it was because many of these brave soldiers had curly hair like a buffalo. Another explanation, and the one I believe in, is that they were named Buffalo Soldiers for their toughness and their willingness to fight for their land. There could be no better symbol of Veterans’ Day for the difficult year of 2020 than the Buffalo Soldiers - the United States Colored Troops.

Photo Credit: Jill O'Brien

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  • Dan, thanks so much for clarifying the make -up of the USCT.

    Linda Clark
  • What Herman writes is true and very carefully said.
    So many of the open wounds of our history swirl around here.
    I appreciate how your company is healing the earth and our nation by restoring something that ‘progress’ nearly extinquished.
    Like Herman, I encourage you to stay with your strengths.

    Denise Gerace
  • And to all the indigenous Americans who likewise followed their exemplary leaders into battle for our country like one Medal of Honor recipient Chief William Alchesay, White Mountain Apache scout who lead Buffalo Soldiers on the trail against hostiles along the southern border.

    Vernon Cross

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