Construction of a new monument paying tribute to African-American veterans is expected to begin this spring, boosted by the recent awarding of a $600,000 state grant.
The African-American Veterans Monument of Western New York will join existing memorials lined up along the Veterans Park walkway along the waterfront at the Buffalo and Erie County naval and Military Park. The target date for its grand opening is November 11, 2018.
"We have that Walk of Honor that deals with Vietnam veterans, World War II veterans, Polish veterans and Hispanic veterans. This monument will increase the visibility of the park and also increase the idea that the park represents everybody in every war," said Warren Galloway, a U.S. Air Force veteran and chair of the monument committee.
The $600,000 coming to the project, by way of a New York State Dormitory Authority State and Municipal Facilities Grant, will be applied to construction. Galloway explained fundraising continues for long-term goals including continued care of the monument.
Designed by the local concrete manufacturer Solid 716, the monument will feature a dozen 10-foot black concrete pillars, each representing one of the major conflicts in which the United States participated and in which African-Americans served.
These include conflicts during which African-Americans did not yet have the same freedoms and rights as their white counterparts. Galloway noted that during World War I, for example, many black soldiers from the U.S. instead fought alongside the French.
"But they still answered the call, from the beginning," he said. "This is why the monument is honoring every war that African-Americans participated in. It's every war that this country has participated in."
The state grant is bring managed by the City of Buffalo's Public Works Department. The city will oversee the construction process, from contractor bidding to project completion.