Sunday, September 25, 2005

1st Sergeant Matthews

New York Post Online Edition: postopinion

September 25, 2005 -- "THIS past week we lost a great warrior: 1st Sergeant Mark Matthews (1894-2005) was a Buffalo Soldier. If few know what that means, it's an indictment of the short memory our society too often displays.

Matthews was black.

We know of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, but 1st Sergeant Matthews' contribution and those of the men he served with predate both Parks and King by decades. And their efforts were all the more significant because they performed them far from the limelight and without expectation of notice or acclaim.
They are deserving of worldwide acclaim — for the achievements of Buffalo Soldiers like First Sergeant Matthews are the stuff of legend.
SOME say the Cheyenne were the people who first called the black troops "Buffalo Soldiers" because their hair and complexion resembled that of the buffalo who roamed the West. Others insist the Sioux coined the term, because these foes were as dangerous and imperturbable as the buffalo. But the origins don't matter so much as the fact that the Buffalo Soldiers took that name and wore it with pride.
And so they should — for the incidence of disciplinary problems and desertion among black troops were but a tiny fraction of that among white troops. The Buffalo Soldiers took pride in what they did. They took pride in their units, in their duty and in themselves.
Consider: During the Civil War, 23 black soldiers received the Medal of Honor. During the Indian Wars, 18 Buffalo Soldiers were so awarded. As America expanded westward in those decades, Buffalo Soldiers continued to serve with distinction."

Present arms, and thank you 1st Sergeant. May our expressions of gratitude and admiration for your distinguished service help you to rest in the honorable peace you so rightly deserve.

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