Monday, May 26, 2008

Buffalo Thunder in Shaw!

The Mall may have Rolling Thunder on Memorial Day but our own DC neighborhood Shaw hosts a pre-rally event, "Buffalo Thunder" each year at the African American Civil War Memorial.

Prior to heading down to the Mall, hundreds of members of the Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers Motorcycle Clubs from around the country lay a wreath at the Memorial's Wall of Honor which lists the names of 200,000 + African American troops who served in the Civil War. The clubs are named to honor and ensure the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, which was comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers, who first served in the U.S. Army during peacetime after the Civil War.

Once the Westward movement had begun after the War, prominent among those blazing treacherous trails of the Wild West were the Buffalo Soldiers of the U.S. Army. These African Americans were charged with and responsible for escorting settlers, cattle herds, and railroad crews.

Throughout the era of the Indian Wars, approximately twenty percent of the U.S. Cavalry troopers were black, and they fought over 177 engagements. The combat prowess, bravery, tenaciousness, and looks on the battlefield, inspired the Indians to call them "Buffalo Soldiers." Many Indians believe the name symbolized the Native American's respect for the Buffalo Soldiers' bravery and valor. Buffalo Soldiers, down through the years, have worn the name with pride.

This rally appropriately takes place in Shaw since the neighborhood is named for Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837-July 1863) who was the commander of the all African American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry which entered the Civil War in 1863. Col. Shaw and his troops were the subject of 1989 film "Glory."

The Clubs line up on Vermont Avenue waiting for the signal to begin the trek to the Mall.

Black and gold are the official club colors of the day.

Normally quiet T Street vibrates as hundreds of bikers thunder by!

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