San Joaquin National Cemetery Memorial Day services to honor Buffalo Soldiers

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Memorial Day services will be held at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery on May 30, beginning at 11 a.m.

This year's theme honors the Buffalo Soldiers, the agency said in a news release.

Guest speaker will be Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe (Ret.), former adjutant general of the California National Guard. He is from Los Banos.

Representatives of the Buffalo Soldiers from Los Banos will present the colors representing all branches of the service.

In 1866, through an act of Congress, legislation was adopted to create six all-black Army units, according to www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com. The units were identified as the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry Regiments. The four infantry regiments were later reorganized to form the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments.

They represented the first black professional soldiers in a peacetime army, the website said. The recruits came from varied backgrounds including former slaves and veterans from service in the Civil War. The nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began with Cheyenne warriors in 1867.

The California National Guard will provide the three-rifle volley and playing of Taps. The Fresno Stag and Thistle band will provide several musical selections, and Marsha Borrelli-Silva and others will perform patriotic vocal selections.

Joe Cox of WWII Submarines will be master of ceremonies.The program is expected to last one hour.

The cemetery is at 32053 W. McCabe Road, Santa Nella, CA 95322.