Buffalo monument honors Hispanic vets

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

The Western New York Hispanic American Veterans Monument was dedicated June 14 in Buffalo at the Naval and Military Park. It’s the seventh monument in the country that honors the sacrifice and service of Hispanic Americans in the military.

The monument is in front of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval Park which features the destroyer USS The Sullivans, the guided missile cruiser the USS Little Rock and the submarine USS Croaker.

BUFFALO – Sunday afternoon I visited the Naval Park for the first time. It was part of an excursion for Scouts from Pack 164 in Albion. My son is in this group and we ventured off to tour a destroyer, a guided missile cruiser and a submarine.

The Naval Park is a spectacular experience, exploring the close confines of these massive ships. Congratulations to the people of Buffalo and Erie County who welcomed these ships, preserved them and turned them into mega-attractions.

Buffalo’s historic canal is a block from the Naval Park and the city is working to develop heritage attractions by the “Commercial Slip.” They have guided historical tours – on boats. It was an inspiring spectacle on a hot Sunday afternoon.

There is also a growing row of memorials at the Naval Park. The newest one was dedicated on June 14. The Western New York Hispanic American Veterans Monument features two life-sized bronze figures of both a male and a female soldier paying tribute to a fallen hero.

It’s only the seventh monument dedicated in the country to Hispanic American members of the military. There also is an impressive monument to Polish Americans who served in the military as well as several other memorials. The park wants to have a monument in honor of the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I was impressed by the Hispanic American monument. The statues are set on an octagon-shaped granite stone with an engraved phrase, “In gratitude to all Hispanic-American Veterans for their service.”

On the other side are the five engraved emblems of all the Armed Forces: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

I like monuments with bronze statues. I think the likeness of a person draws people in and makes a personal connection. I saw lots of people stopping at the site.