Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews, Sr., Founder

April 8, 1921 – August 26, 2016

 

 

SSG (Ret.) Sanders H. Matthews Sr. was born in Griffin, Georgia, but grew up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He enlisted as a Buffalo Soldier and was stationed at West Point. While at West Point, he married Cora Lee (Holiday) Matthews in 1942, and they had two sons, Sanders H. Matthews Jr and Dennis R. Matthews. Both of his sons were excellent athletes, and both graduated from college as scholar athletes, and received post graduate degrees in their respective fields. Sanders Matthews Jr was also a Veteran of the Vietnam War, worked for IBM, served as a police officer, and was known for standing up and speaking out against social injustices his entire life. Dennis Matthews served as teacher, coach, and principal in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1992, he was recognized as Principal of Year in the State of Ohio, and was honored by President Bill Clinton for his accomplishments.  Sanders and Cora were married for 74 years until he was laid to rest on September 3, 2016.  He is buried at the West Point Cemetery. To memorialize his contributions to the Village and Town of Highland Falls, on September 4, 2016, Village of Highland Falls Mayor Patrick Flynn declared September 3rd as Sgt. Sanders Matthews Day.

 

Sanders Matthews lived a fulfilled life. When he was a young child, he wanted to be three things when he grew up a Soldier, Policeman, and a Bus driver. He had a passion for serving his community and his country. In 1939, Sanders enlisted in the Army at the age of 18. He served his country in WWII, and the Korean War. He retired from the Army in 1962. After retiring from the Army, Sanders became the first African American police officer to serve the Village of Highland Falls, New York Police Department.

As a police officer in Highland Falls, he managed to break down racial barriers in the small town of Highland Falls. Known for his integrity, courage, and fairness, Sanders helped to heal the divide, and was warmly loved by the residents of Highland Falls.

                               

After retiring from the Police Department, he became a bus driver for the United States Military Academy. As a bus driver, Sanders became the most requested driver for the Athletic department and Band at West Point. His dedication to service, excellence, as well as his unconventional wisdom endeared him to the young Cadets at West Point. Among West Point Cadets and colleagues, Sanders was known as a man with “unique zeal”, and for having an unwavering commitment to preserving the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers at West Point.  Throughout his life, he has exemplified Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Self-less Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage, and Respect.

 

As founding President of the Buffalo Soldiers Association of West Point, Inc., he work diligently for 55 years to establish a historical commemorative event to educate West Point cadets, military communities, and youth about the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry in American history. His last remaining dream was to donate and erect a Buffalo Soldiers Monument at West Point.

 

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As a Buffalo Soldier Sgt. (Ret.) Sanders H. Matthews endured many hardships and challenges, yet he loved being African American and the United States of America. Both as a Soldier and as a citizen, he lived his life upholding the Buffalo Soldier battle cry, “Ready and Forward”; We Can, And We Will, and he managed to make a lasting impact on everyone he met.  His life and commitment to honoring and preserving the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, reminds us to never forget the sacrifices and historical contributions of the Buffalo Soldier to U.S. Army history and America, past and present. It has been said that Soldiers don’t die, they fade away. Although Sgt. Sanders Matthews is no longer living among us, he will never be forgotten. His legacy will live forever.

Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews, Sr.

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