Special to the Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Representatives of South Korea honor Navajo Korean War Veterans with the “Ambassador for Peace Medal” on May 22 in Leupp, Ariz., at the Ranch Hands Ministry Church during the Honoring Korean War Veterans of the Navajo Nation & Navajo-Korean Fellowship Worship Service.
Published November 11, 2016
FORT LAUDERDALE – As Americans celebrate Veterans Day on Friday, November 11, 2016, Native News Online joins with Indian Country and all Americans in honoring the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Veterans Day is time to reflect on the brave contributions veterans made while serving our country. The personal sacrifices of military men, particularly at time of war, are immense in terms of being separated from their families and loved ones. During war, they are in harms’ way and risk their lives.
Sadly, many sacrifice their lives to preserve freedom.
Historically, American Indians were known as warriors. It is a deep tradition that has continued to modern times. This is perhaps the reason the Pentagon reports American Indians and Alaska Natives participate in the military at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.
Per the 2010 Census, it is estimated that over 150,000 veterans identified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone. The US Department of Defense estimates there are currently over 24,000 active duty Native service members in the US Armed Forces.
The Department of Veteran Affairs reported in 2006 more than 36,000 female /veterans are American Indians Alaska Natives, representing almost 10 percent of all American Indians/Alaska Natives veterans, and nearly twice the national average (6 percent of women in the overall population are veterans).
Veterans groups are prominently featured in the “Parade of Champions” in Bismarck. United Tribes News photo
The vast contributions the American Indian code talkers during World War II have chronicled in recent years. The fact that their code has never been broken is witness to the power of Native language that fortunately was available to those who spoke it then.
During powwows and other public events, American Indian veterans carry our eagle staffs and tribal nation flags, as well as other governmental flags, into the dance arena during grand entries. The power of the drum, coupled with the brilliance of the eagle feathers and colorful flags still cause a tremendous moment of remembrance to their service.