The Truth Staff
This year, Ohio became the first state in the nation to declare July 28 Ohio Buffalo Soldier Day annually. House Bill 238 – co-sponsored by Toledo’s State Rep Paula Hicks-Hudson – passed the Ohio House unanimously, then the Ohio Senate unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year.
This past Thursday, July 28, the governor’s representative, Christa Luttmann, Northwest Regional Liaison for the governor’s office, presented a plaque to the Toledo Buffalo Soldiers commemorating the new state day and honoring the gallant service the nation’s Buffalo Soldiers have rendered to their nation for so many years in the past.
During a ceremony at Wilson Park in north Toledo, the local Buffalo Soldiers received that plaque at a park they have adopted in recent years, received a donation of $3,500 from the Paragon Msionic Lodge # 788 and donated an additional $500 to keep the Wilson Park swimming pool open for local neighborhood kids.
“They give back,” said former Mayor Mike Bell during the ceremony. “When you see Buffalo Soldiers, it’s about something good happening.”
The Toledo Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club was founded on October 1, 2013 when six people came together. They later formed a not-for-profit corporation in order to “represent and educate people about the heritage and rich past of the U.S. Army’s Cavalry and Infantry Buffalo Soldiers, through participating in community service events …” reads the published information.
The group has been active since their foundation in the community serving a range of citizens, from youth to seniors. They interact with students at four Toledo Public elementary schools; they provide residents with materials on preparing for disasters; they offer free meals to veterans on Veterans Day, they conduct workshops on issues of awareness and engagement such as “what to do when stopped by the police among a range of community engagement programs.
“We are a small contingent but a might contingent,” said State Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson, a member who serves as legal counsel for the club.
Other members present at last week’s celebration were: Earl Mack, president; Fred LeFebvre, the public information officer and secretary; Lorinda McCalebb, treasurer; Kenneth Reeves, sergeant at arms and Lucretia Stewart, a visiting member from the Detroit club.
The nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” was given to members to the all-African-American peacetime regiments of the 9th and 10th U.S. Army Cavalry and four infantry units by Native Americans because of their bravery and fierce fighting skills and because of their dark curly hair and beards.
President George H. W. Bush proclaimed July 28 as National Buffalo Soldiers Day in July 1992 and a monument was erected on that first National day to a Buffalo Soldier at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and dedicated by General Colin Powell.
Last week’s event culminated with a tour of the swimming pool the Buffalo Soldiers have kept open for students and food provided by Chef Jim Rhegness food Truck. Rhegness has worked with the Buffalo Soldiers often at their events to provide free food for attendees.