On Saturday (September 24), the African American Veterans Monument was unveiled in Buffalo, New York, honoring current and past Black military members, NBC News reports.
The historic monument marks the first permanent marker in the nation that recognizes the contributions of African Americans who served in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard.
Military members, veterans, and city and state officials attended the unveiling ceremony at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the country's largest military park.
“The African American Veterans Monument will enhance visitors’ understanding of the diversity in the armed forces throughout American history,” said Robin Hodges, the vice chairman of the African American Veterans Monument.
12 black pillars representing each war Black soldiers served in make up the monument, which was designed by late artist Jonathan Casey.
The spacing between the pillars was also intentionally designed to signify times of peace from one war and to the next.
Visitors of the monument can purchase their own commemorative brick for current and active-duty military members, which will be engraved and placed at the foot of the pillars.
Madeline Scott, who serves on the African American Veterans Monument committee, said she hopes that the monument will shed light on the contributions of Black military units like the Buffalo Soldiers and the Harlem Hellfighters, which are rarely taught in schools.
“This monument serves as a source of pride to the generations of African Americans who served this country with honor but often returned to civil life without the support given to other veterans and opportunities afforded to others,” Scott said.