National Native American Veterans Memorial opens in Washington, DC

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Opens today on the National Mall in Washington, D C. It's the Native American Veterans Memorial. Native Americans have served in the armed forces in high numbers for more than a century. This is the first memorial to honor that service. Here's NPR's Quil Lawrence. The memorial is simple. A steel circle elevated over carved stone drum. It sits in the shade of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Kevin Go over, is a member of the Pawnee Nation and the museum's director. It's an article of faith in Indian country that Native American serve at a greater rate than basically any other group. So we wish for this to be a sacred place, not just for Native America. But for all Americans. The opening ceremony went virtual because of the pandemic. But here are a few of the people go over hopes will one day attend and sanctify the site. My name is Marcel Grande La Bull. And I'm from the two kettle ban of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. You know? I'm 101 years old. No in 1940 for Marcela Lobo was a surgical nurse at an Army hospital during the battle of the Bulge Well, In December. I believe it was 1/16 of December. The Germans overtook the American soldiers. They wondered about putting in a hospital so close to the front lines, but they did. So we were there in leisure. And we had both funds night and day. At the time of the breaks through the growth of the bulge. Lobo says her own community always honored her military service. Now the memorial in Washington means the whole country conduce this same to be AH, thought like it was a great honor. My ancestors were warriors. I'm related to rein in the face who fought in the battle of the little big horn or greasy grass that they called it. My father was a Spanish American war veteran. My brother oldest brother was a veteran all down the line. But some native vets aren't as aware of their own family service. Yeah, my name is Colonel Wayne Don don has served 27 years in the army, including Bosnia and Afghanistan. You know, for a lot of years, I thought I was a first generation military person came to find out is both of my grandfather and uncles. And served in a territorial guard during World War two. That was an emotional discovery for dawn and a complicated one not just native Americans, but on the other minority groups, ultimately that they chose to serve to represent their people. And also to serve a country that this, you know, sometimes. Didn't have AH would've proved to be their best interests in mind, but they're still still did it, He says. Now that the country is wrestling with questions about racial justice, he hopes the memorial can play a part. Army vet Allan Ho feels the same. He's native Hawaiian saw combat in Vietnam. Then his two sons served after 9 11, his oldest son. Nine. No. Ho was killed in Iraq and he wass Credible young man. He was an officer, platoon leader, and he was killed in 25 in Mosul, Iraq. His younger brother's the staff sergeant. His name is Locke or And the meaning for a knock or is a warrior who is brave and courageous. Those are the stories of service and sacrifice. He wants Americans to hear it. The new memorial for native visitors, Ho wants it to be a validation and an inspiration. And then perhaps, who knows? Maybe some young Native son who experiences that memorial for this first time, we'll be in 50 years from now he'll be that the president of the United States who knows Quil Lawrence NPR news

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