One more time we are gathered at the Presidio Officers' Club to celebrate Black History Month. And one more time we are here to especially pay homage to the Buffalo Soldiers who are a great symbol of their times and our times. We are also here to honor all those African Americans and others who have contributed so much to this Nation and to the World.
We who are gathered here are fully aware that - we have the singular privilege of having the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments all stationed here at the Presidio of San Francisco in the early 1900. From here the Buffalo Soldiers managed the Federal Lands - today known as Sequoia National Park and other Parks. They were the ones who wrote the first Standard Operating Procedures - how to run the National Parks - much before the National Parks were formed in 1916.
In the 1860s and 1870s the Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in helping to settle the Frontier Forts. Times were very difficult and they were paid about $13. They were on duty and worked seven days a week - the only holidays being Christmas and the 4th of July.
When the Buffalo Soldiers were not on patrol they were engaged in endless drills, parades, and inspections.
As we all know from reading some good history but more from talking to those Buffalo Soldiers who passed their oral history to family members and others. And more from those few Buffalo Soldiers who are alive - Buffalo Soldiers were very proud of their uniform and worked as a team. They served this Nation well for little pay.
After desegregation former Buffalo Soldiers won great battles all over the World. All of Europe honors the Buffalo Soldiers. The people in North Africa remember them. They played an important role in the Burma theater. They fought in the Boxer Wars in China.
Before that they were instrumental in winning the Spanish War in Cuba. And from the Presidio of San Francisco they were sent to the Philippines where they are fondly remembered.
While history has not been kind to them - their good works and honor have been engraved on the minds and hearts of too many noble women and men all over the world. As proud as we are when we remember the Tugshegee Airmen who were all Black - we remember the Buffalo Soldiers.
Not far from here over the hill lie hundreds of Buffalo Soldiers. For a long time no one paid much attention to them. I am happy to inform you that a few of us did and today especially using the powerful tool of cyberspace we have spread the word around. More then 455 Buffalo Soldiers lie in the Veterans' Administration Cemetery and they know that we all care for them - more so today then yesterday.
And I assure you as long as I life in my body - the Buffalo Soldiers will be known. The word will be spread over the hills and across the oceans - from one school to another - from one university to another - from one country to another - from hundreds to thousands to millions. I ask you to be Buffalo Soldiers and carry on the great tradition - learn from them and spread the word and light.
Today we have hundreds of great Buffalo Soldier web sites. Today, we all are united against those few forces who are out to rewrite history. To those few biased people who cannot come to the concrete realization that African Americans can, have and will contribute to human kind all over the world.
It has been my singular privilege to serve 3 Generals here at the Presidio of San Francisco. It has been my singular privilege to be the founder member of the African American Association. I look into the audience and I see many who really care about the contributions of the African American.
For the thousandth time I plead with the Trust and the National Park Service - please do not pay lip service. It is about time that a permanent monument, some permanent symbol, some road, some building - be named after the Buffalo Soldiers. Their contribution to the Presidio of San Francisco has been extraordinary. Their valor second to none among fighting forces all over the world.
My friends I mince no words