Following President Obama’s designation of five new national monuments last week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has been on a five state tour of those sights. Yesterday’s stop - The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Local and National Parks officials gathered with Secretary Salazar for a tour of the Col. Young House on route 42, and the dedication ceremony that followed at the National Afro-American Museum at Central State University. This is the final tour of duty for Secretary Salazar, who will leave his post after his Ohio visit. He says the national parks should reflect the lives of all of its citizens.
The Secretary added that "In making sure that we are bringing places like Col. Young and the Buffalo Soldiers onto the map is a part of making our parks relevant to all of America with no exceptions, and so this is a milestone in that regard."
Col. Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point, and the first to achieve the rank of colonel. Renotta Young, the great grand niece of Col. Young says those accomplishments were especially significant in light of racial barriers in place during his lifetime.
Young said of her great uncle, "For a black officer to manage white troops was controversial. That was a major roadblock. For in the military, to have troops that do not recognize the skills or management of their commanding officer would place the troops, and the officer, and the country at risk."
Secretary Salazar also noted that the 5 new national monuments “will serve as economic engines for [their local] communities through increased tourism and outdoor recreation.” The National Park Service says national parks generated $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide in 2011.
More information on Col. Young can be found at www.buffalosoldier.net.