By Santee Ross, University of Montana
The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour sounds like its right out of an action movie but in fact it’s the day our nation remembers the military veterans who honorably served this country.
I must admit I used to view this day as a day off from school and work—a reflection of my maturity. That changed when I developed friendships with those who currently serve or have served.
These men and woman courageously put the needs of the country above their own in order to ensure our safety and freedom. Way back in the day, our Indian warriors would carry out the same tasks.
Being a warrior of the tribe meant that you possessed physical, mental and spiritual strength to protect the people and your loved ones. Warriors faced their enemy with courage and if needed, sacrificed their lives to preserve the lives of others.
These warriors were recognized with honor and great respect in the tribal community. Moving into modern times we still carry our traditions of warrior societies, they are just labeled as military servicemen and woman now.
Native Americans have the highest record of military service per capita. Native Americans also have about 190,000 veterans today.
Veterans Day is centered on honoring the soldiers that fought courageously in any war. We honor the soldiers who died in battle, their families and the soldiers still with us. Honoring veterans can be done in any way you choose but because we are Native American we have all the more reason to observe this day.
Our ancestors throughout history who fought to protect our traditional culture and way of life are veterans to be honored. Our modern warriors in the army, marines, air force and other military service are to be honored.
This Veterans Day I’m going to take the time to pray and say thank you to the warriors in my family. Thank you to my grandfathers, uncles and auntie because without your bravery I could not enjoy the freedom I have today.
Santee Ross (Hopi/Lakota) is from Lander, Wyo.