COUNTY PRESS RELEASE– County Executive Ed Day this week presented the 2017 Buffalo Soldier Award to Spring Valley pastor and U.S. Army veteran Weldon McWilliams.
Pastor McWilliams served his country proudly in the US Army in the 1960s. It was then that he received his calling to serve God through the ministry.
For almost 50 years, Pastor McWilliams has served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Spring Valley. He organized the Rockland County Ministers Alliance, which will be celebrating its 34th anniversary this year, and was one of the first recipients of the Rockland County NAACP Image Awards.
“Pastor McWilliams joins a distinguished group of African-American men and women who have served our nation,” said County Executive Day. “We thank him for his dedication to his country and his community. We are proud to recognize him with this great honor.”
The County Executive was joined by Jerry Donnellan, director of Rockland County Veterans Service Agency. The term, “Buffalo Soldier” comes from the name that Native Americans of the Great Plains gave to black soldiers in the 1800s.
The name Buffalo Soldiers conveys great respect. The Native Americans claimed that the black troopers were powerful like the buffalo, and, when cornered, would fight to the death taking wound after wound, like the powerful buffalo.
For many years this history was lost only known by a few – until 25 years ago when Rockland County awarded its first Buffalo Soldier Award. A panel of past Buffalo Soldier awardees helped select Pastor McWilliams for this year’s award.
Previous recipients include:
Grady Anderson; Walter C. Blount; John Boykin; Joe Brown; William Bullock; Charles H. Butler; Harry B. Dunbar, Jesse Duncan, Hezekiah Easter; Wilbur Foulkes; William M. Holt; Fletcher Johnson, MD; Mattie Moore; Benjamin W. Lawson; Weldon McWilliam; Irwin Murfree; the Honorable Judge William Nelson; Kerney Oby; Richard Charles Royster; Rev. Louis Sanders; David C. Smith; Jimmie D. Sullivan; Everett Swann, Joseph Thaxton; Willie Trotman; John P. Vasser; Thomas Lee Watson; Robert Young