Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Even though yesterday was Veterans Day, today we observe it as a national holiday. Many tribal offices, other governmental agencies and many banks will be closed for business.
The day is much more than an off-day.
We should never forget
It is a day to observe the many sacrifices made by those who served in the US military. Hundreds of thousands American Indians and Alaska Natives have served the US military during the past century. Earlier this year the Pentagon released these numbers:
Since 2001, 64 American Indians and Alaskan Natives have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (42 in Operation Iraqi Freedom; 22 in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).
The Pentagon also reported that 22,248 American Indian/Alaska Natives currently serve in the military on active duty. Native personnel serve across the Armed Forces at the following levels; Army: 4,404; Navy: 13,511; Marine Corps: 2,128; and Air Force: 2,205.
The 2010 US Census estimates that there are currently 156,515 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. (Source: 2010 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone population).
According to Department of Veteran Affairs, in 2006 more than 36,000 female /veterans are American IndiansAlaska 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).
The vast contributions the Navajo and Comanche 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. Sadly, we are losing those code talkers from the Greatest Generation far too many in recent months.
Proudly, at all American Indian powwows, veterans are afforded high honor. They 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.
Veterans Day is a full day that allows us never to forget those who served. We should never forget.
Today, the Native News Network honors all veterans and says "Megwetch" -Thank you for all you did for this country.
posted November 12, 2012 9:57 am edt