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Men on horseback approached Lake Wire this morning. They were wearing uniforms like the ones worn by the Buffalo Soldiers who camped there 117 years ago.

A historical marker on the north shore of the lake tells of the African-American cavalry soldiers who spent three weeks in Lakeland before shipping out to Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War.

Today’s ride marked Veterans Day and the participants hope to make it an annual event.

Reenactor Richard Wilder of Lakeland explained that the soldiers had enforced federal law out West before coming to Florida. So they were surprised when they encountered bigotry here.

He hopes children and adults in Lakeland can learn about these events to better understand local history and human relationships.

Likewise, event organizer Doris Moore Bailey hopes the city can make more people aware of the history by illuminating the historic marker so it can be seen at night.

BOOK EXCERPT: “Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898” by Frank Schubert.

(Thanks to Brett Upthagrove for sharing still photos.)

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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