CHIPLEY - Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church will host the North Florida Buffalo Soldiers at 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, for their annual Black History Program.

The keynote speaker will be Trooper Will Barnes, founder of the North Florida Chapter. The Buffalo Soldiers were originally members of the U.S. Army's 10th Cavalry Regiment, formed Sept. 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Buffalo Soldiers soon comprised other regiments, including the 9th, 24th, and 28th cavalry divisions.

The nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" was given to the men by the Native American tribes they fought. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the nickname originated with Cheyenne warriors in 1876. The actual Cheyenne translation was “Wild Buffalo." Writer Walter Hill documented the origin of the name according to an account by Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against the Comanche Tribe.

Some say the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th Cavalry. Others claim the Native Americans called the black Cavalry troops “buffalo soldiers” because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo’s coat. Still other sources point to a combination of both legends.

The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all black soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry, units whose bravely earned them an honored place in U.S history. Not all the recruits were former slaves; most were free blacks of Northern percentage and many had served with distinction during Civil War.

The Buffalo Soldiers of today have 47 chapters and more than 11,000 members all over the United States. They have preserved the history of the original Buffalo Soldiers whose trials and tribulations are the reason they continue to serve in our military and communities.

The North Florida Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers was founded by Will Barnes, who currently the manages the chapter. The local chapter is comprised of veterans from the local community, as well as local citizens.

Today’s Buffalo Soldier is likely to be a doctor, teacher, lawyer, preacher, business person or any other professional who is fiercely committed to their community as their predecessors were to their mission. The North Florida Chapter of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association states their hope is to continue the proud history of the men upon whose shoulders they stand. Their mission is to educate the public and to preserve, promote and perpetuate the history, tradition and outstanding contributions of America's Buffalo Soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the present.

Everyone is invited to attend the service to hear more about this historic group. The theme of the message is “We Too Are America." (Jeremiah 31:3-11; I Corinthians 12:13)

Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church is located at 816 Sunday Road in Chipley and is under the pastorate of the Rev. Malcolm O. Nelson.