fbpx
 

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer. With the more relaxed guidelines for Covid-19 from Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) families and friends will get together for backyard cookouts and other celebrations for this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is much more than a time of celebration. Memorial Day is a federal holiday when we remember those fallen warriors who lost their lives for the country.

It is said that giving your life for your country is the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is a day to remember those warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Throughout American history, American Indians and Alaska Natives have proudly served and died for the United States of America. According to the Oxford Companion to American Military History, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest record of military service per capita compared to any other racial/ethnic group in the United States.

Remarkably, before American Indians became citizens of the United States in 1924, during World War I (July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918), some 12,500 American Indians served in the armed forces. They fought for freedom when they weren’t even citizens of this country. Almost two-thirds of American Indians who served did so in the infantry, where they won widespread praise for bravery and achievement. Almost five percent of American Indian combat soldiers lost their lives, compared to one percent of American forces overall.

This Memorial Day I remember Spc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi tribal citizen, who was the first female American soldier to die in the invasion of Iraq. She is also remembered as the first American Indian woman to die for the United States.

Deployed from Fort Bliss in Texas, she had only been in Iraq for five weeks. Spc. Lori was only 23 years old when she gave her life in 2003. She left behind two young children.

For several years, Terry Piestewa, Lori’s father and a Vietnam veteran, wore a cap that read: “All give some, some gave all.”

In the immediate years after Piestewa’s death, tribal communities across Indian Country celebrated her life and death. At first, her family found the memorials in her honor difficult at first. As time passed, the family found the memorials and tributes to Lori beneficial.

"Now that it's been going on a while, it's been helping us to heal," her father said. "And it helps our grandchildren to know their mother, because when you're that young, you don't know your parents when they leave. Through what is happening to us, our grandchildren are getting to know their mother quite well. They know that there are a lot of people out there still thinking about their mother."

So, on this Memorial Day, please take time to remember and honor those fallen warriors who gave all. It is part of the healing process.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

More Stories Like This

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King's Legacy and Challenging Us All to Recommit to Furthering His Life’s Work
Senate Should Pass Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act in Honor of Dr. King
Op-ed: Lessons from More Than a Hundred Years of Affirmative Action in Hawai'i
Remembering Clyde Bellecourt: Making Sure We Had Money for a Meal on Our Way Home from Standing Rock
We Can Do This Indian Country

The truth about Indian Boarding Schools

This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative called “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.”  Our mission is to shine a light on the dark era of forced assimilation of native American children by the U.S. government and churches.  You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for Livestream events to understand what the Indian Boarding School era has meant to Native Americans — and what it still means today.

This news will be provided free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts.  Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. He can be reached at [email protected]