Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A tribute to Buffalo Soldiers

[Source: Sam Lowe, Arizona Republic] -- The monument is an 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a Buffalo Soldier in period dress, holding a rifle in one hand and a saddle in the other. The work traces its origins to the early 1970s, when Spec. 4 Clarence E. Wilson Jr. embarked on a personal mission to honor African-American soldiers who had been stationed at Fort Huachuca. Wilson, a social worker in the fort's drug- and alcohol-abuse center, worked tirelessly in his off-duty hours to establish a course on Black history, acquire Black heritage literature for the post libraries and start the campaign to erect the statue. But Wilson left the post before accomplishing the mission, so Col. Arthur Corley, then the garrison commander, assigned the project to the Fort Huachuca Historical Museum.

Staff artist Rose Murray was given the task of designing the sculpture, and she attended advanced sculpture courses at the University of Arizona while creating several wax models of the soldier. Once the final model was ready, the garrison ran into funding problems. There wasn't enough money to cast the bronze, but a firm in Tucson accepted the work at a bargain price. Further cost reductions were achieved by scaling down the statue's size and by melting down brass scrap from Army stocks. When the work was completed, there was the problem of finding a vehicle capable of transporting it from Tucson to the fort. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]