BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–A memorial on Buffalo’s waterfront to African Americans who fought in all twelve of America’s wars is one step closer to reality.
Kim and Terry Pegula donated $50,000 to the African American Veterans Monument which its organizers say, would be the only monument of its kind in the country.
Western New Yorkers have reached deep into their pockets to make this dream come true, and the Pegulas have given the project a big push toward that goal. The project has been on the drawing board for more than two years.
Until America’s armed forces were desegregated in 1948, African American service members were forced to the back of the bus, even as they fought and died for their country.
Warren Galloway, chairman of the African American Veterans Monument Committee said the project is designed to pay tribute to those sacrifices.
“African Americans, even as non-free people, as slaves, we were still participated. We still supported a country that we were forced into, and when the call came out for war we were always there.”
Galloway, a Vietnam veteran, said the Pegulas’ gift will get the project about 90 percent of the way to the $1.6 million goal.
One of the unique parts of the monument will be a guided tour by smartphone, using an app to present an audio and visual description of what is inscribed on each of the 12 black 10-foot concrete pillars.
“You can’t put a whole lot of information on writings that are on display. So with this app we will be able to have a lot more in detail, that when people walk through it they can get a better history of our involvement into the wars.”
The site of the African American Monument is set at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park at Canalside.
Other major corporate donors, including M&T Bank and Delaware North, as well as the state, the county, and city have helped push the Veterans Monument close to the finish line.
Galloway said the committee plans to get shovels in the ground by March 1, and hold the grand opening on the Fourth of July, 2020.