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.
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.
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