One of the Last Buffalo Soldiers

An article in our local newspaper made me pause and rethink events in American history that we too often tend to push aside. The article was about a man named Robert Wallace. He was a Buffalo Soldier and one of the last living WWII veterans who was part of the all-black 92nd  Infantry Division. He died on February ninth at the age of 91.

The Buffalo Soldiers were put in dangerous situations, fought equally as hard as their white counterparts, but were treated like second-class citizens. It wasn’t until 1948 that President Truman ordered armed forces to integrate.

The article, “A Buffalo Soldier in the Heart of Wisconsin,” is an eye-opening and telling piece. In 1999, Robert Wallace participated in a taped interview for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Oral History Project, which documented his experiences while serving in WWII. He spoke of whites using racial slurs, death of his friends, not having the same opportunities as the white units, and feeling like he had more freedom overseas than in America.

This brings to mind a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

With determination and perseverance, Robert Wallace was able to overcome some of the objectionable experiences African Americans endured to live a very long and successful life.

Some books of Interest:

The Buffalo Saga:  A Story of WWII U.S. Army 92nd Infantry Division Known as the Buffalo Soldiers by James Harden Daugherty (Xlibris, Corp., 2009)

Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II Memories of the Only Negro Infantry Division to Fight in Europe during World War II by Ivan J. Houston with contributor Gordon Cohn (iUniverse Star, 2011)

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