African American Veterans Monument gets big boost

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A monument to honor African American veterans is another step closer to reality thanks to a major donation Wednesday.

First announced last November on Veterans Day, the African American Veterans monument will be built starting next year, and the $50,000 check from Catholic Health will allow construction to begin.

For a long time, the monument has had support from the Buffalo VA and from Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, but it’s particularly meaningful to a local Gold Star mother who’s waited nearly 30 years for this.

Georgian Davis’s son, Nathaniel Clifford Jones, Jr., died with 46 other sailors in an explosion during a training exercise on the USS Iowa in 1989, but time hasn’t stopped Davis from working hard in his honor.

“I said to myself that I would continue the oath that he took to serve. So I serve my veteran community, I serve my veteran hospital, and I am proud to do that,” Davis said.

Part of her efforts have been seeing through the construction of a monument for Black veterans at Buffalo’s Naval and Military Park.

“Blacks was an entity that was not acknowledged throughout history. So now, because of Vietnam, everything has changed,” Davis said. “Because of the way our country treated our Vietnam veterans, they now know they have to honor all of their veterans.”

Now, a large donation from Catholic Health is helping make the blueprints a reality. CEO Mark Sullivan told African American veterans on Wednesday that he recognizes not all battles happen on the field or in the air.

“But battles that dating back over hundreds of years, where each service branch in every community for the recognition of equality for each and every African American service man and woman to be treated equally,” Sullivan said.

The $50,000 will help fund 12 concrete pillars representing all 12 military conflicts African Americans have fought in.

Davis looks forward to seeing her son’s name inscribed on it.

“It does my heart good to know my son’s name is going to be on this monument and that he’s going to be remembered here in my hometown,” Davis said. “He’s buried in Arlington, so he’s always visited there, but he will always be visited here.”

The donation certainly helps, but the chairman of the African American veterans Monument says funding is still needed. If you’re interested in making a contribution go to AAVMWNY.org or call (716) 800-1137 for more information.

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