BY WALTER OPINDE
Throughout the month of February, the U.S. celebrates the National African American History Month by honoring the pivotal role of African-Americans in history. This role was shaped by centuries of sacrifice, determination, and perseverance towards a belief that represents the best of the nation’s ideals; liberty and justice for all. In order to commemorate this astounding legacy, the National Park Foundation established the African American Experience Fund (AAEF) in 2001, which supports, preserves, and connects all the Americans to the significant contributions of African-Americans to their country. The National Park Service protects and maintains many African-American heritage sites around the country to honor the significant contributions African-Americans have made to the nation.
A great way to celebrate the National African-American History Month is by visiting the national parks dedicated to the unyielding strength of the African-American men and women who shaped our history, such as the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument honoring the American hero Colonel Charles Young.
Young was the third African-American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was the first African-American Military Attaché and the first foreign diplomat from any nation to serve in Haiti. As well, he was the first African-American national park superintendent, the first African-American Colonel in the U.S. Army, and the highest ranking black officer during the World War I era. His credible legacy was thereby preserved through the establishment of the Colonel Charles Young Leadership Academy at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The academy focuses on leadership, and through community service, it inspires the young leaders, cultivates future park stewards and rangers to follow in the footsteps of an “officer and a gentleman” who never wavered in his pursuit of excellence.
One can participate in the National Parke programs by taking part in events being held throughout the country. You can also take time to reflect and interact with the historical and cultural treasures that the AAEF works so hard to protect. AAEF will continue to update the listings throughout the month, so as to be sure to make the bookmark the pages visible. Many Americans remember and honor the African-American soldiers and sailors of the Civil War at this historic memorial in Washington, D.C.
The African-American Civil War Memorial commemorates the service of over 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors who fought for the Union in the United States Civil War. The memorial features a 9-foot bronze statue by Ed Hamilton, The Spirit of Freedom, as well as walls inscribed with the names of the men who served in the war.
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