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Native American veterans push to get recognition

Published: Mon, May 27, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press


The Navajo Code Talkers are legendary. Then there was Cpl. Ira Hamilton Hayes, the Pima Indian who became a symbol of courage and patriotism when he and his fellow Marines raised the flag over Iwo Jima in 1945.

Before World War II and in the decades since, tens of thousands of American Indians have enlisted in the Armed Forces to serve their country at a rate much greater than any other ethnicity.

Yet, among all the monuments and statues along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., not one stands in recognition.

A grass-roots effort is brewing among tribes across the country to change that, while Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii has introduced legislation that would clear the way for the National Museum of the American Indian to begin raising private funds for a memorial.

“This is not a political gamble for anyone, and it’s not politically threatening for anyone,” said Jefferson Keel, a retired Army officer and president of the National Congress of American Indians. The push for a memorial can be traced back to the 1980s when the well-known Three Soldiers sculpture was unveiled near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Depicted are three American soldiers: one white, one black and a Hispanic.

In the Vietnam era, the federal government says more than 42,000 Native Americans served in the military and 90 percent of those service members were volunteers.

“I’ve come across veterans from throughout the whole country, from the East Coast all the way to California, and a lot of Indian who people believe that there should be something on the National Mall. We haven’t been recognized,” said Steven Bowers, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Seminole tribe.


1islandgrump(59 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

It is far too late to say we as a country are sorry. As usual we try to make up for our stupid mistakes. For so long we have tried to make everyone else happy. But we continue to forget the first Americans. It is time that we as a country begin to fully recognize their accomplishments and give these great people the respect and honor they deserve. I am not an Native American, but I am an American and know whats right. Memorial Day belongs to All WHO GAVE.

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2steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree 100% islandgrump !!!
We owe a debt of respect and gratitude to all our vets past and present and that includes the many brave Native Americans who served to protect this nation and free others across the world.

The U.S.Govt.has cheated and broken every agreement they have made with the Native Americans and if anyone in this country is owed a damn thing it's them.

A memorial to their courage and sacrifice certainly isn't asking for or expecting to much and it would be an honor to donate to this most worthy and long over due project.

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