It has been a long journey for all involved with this project to record the names of all deceased Western New York African American veterans.
The project was brought to the community’s attention in 2016.
It was put on hold when COVID-19 struck the world in 2020.
Now what feels like a long-awaited journey, victory has finally found its way with the completion of the project in 2022.
The monument is full of symbolism. It contains a series of 12 pillars. It is approximately 10 feet tall and three feet wide. The dates are in chronological order with space in between each pillar representing peace times between each war fought.
"The columns represent the wars and the light; during war times many families put candles in the windows as their sons and daughters went off to war, and this in fact represents that," said Warren Galloway, committee chairman.
The biggest lesson to take away from this project is that African Americans fought for this country in every war.
The monument stands for every one of those veterans who have fought in the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican American War, the Civil War, two world wars, the wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and so on.
"The most challenging issues the committee faced was convincing people that the Naval and Military Park needed a monument dedicated specifically to African Americans, despite the presence of monuments dedicated to other ethnic groups.
A member in the crowd said, "We had to fight just to get down here, that was part of the struggle," said Ronal Bassham.
"African Americans have been in every single war and in spite of the conditions that African Americans were living in, including racism and, discrimination. Whenever the call came out for volunteers and for soldiers, we answered the call.
This monument is a huge step forward in recognizing the service of African Americans in the United States military.