WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Various states have tributes to Native Americans who served the country. Now, they have their own national monument.
The National Native American Veterans Memorial officially opened over the weekend at the National Museum of the American Indian. Those who visited it said it’s an honor long overdue.
“Because we’ve been defending this land for a long time. Our blood is spilled all over this land,” said Harvey Pratt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “We’re still defending this land in other countries. Our blood is spilled over there.”
The memorial honors those from the 573 federally recognized tribes, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians who served in the military. It features cultural symbols and other reminders of life generations ago from those tribes.
Pratt incorporated all those things when he designed the memorial.
“Honestly, it wasn’t difficult at all,” Pratt said. “I just put down the things that I lived. The ceremonies I’ve been to, the elements, the directions, the customs, the ceremonies.”
The memorial turned out to be a bit emotional for those who saw it.
“I was pointing out to my family how our family served in every branch of the service,” said Seattle’s Dennis Burns, an Army veteran, and Alaska Native. “We’re all Natives, and somebody asked one time ‘why would you go? Why wouldn’t I?'”
Congress passed legislation in 2013 that authorized the creation of the memorial. Work was finished on it in 2020 but it could not be dedicated until now because of the pandemic.