American Native Heritage Month

20 Nov 2007 | Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Hermesman

 What started as a day set aside to recognize American Indians, has turned into an entire month, devoted to the noble heritage of the American Indian and Alaskan-native.

 In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.

 “We are especially grateful for the Native Americans who have served and continue to serve in our nation's military,” said Bush. “These brave individuals have risked their lives to protect our citizens, defend our democracy, and spread the blessings of liberty to people around the world.”

 It is important to remember these peoples’ sacrifices, because more than half of the American-Indian and Alaskan-native population have served in the armed forces, said, Tanya M. Queiro, Affirmative Employment Program Manager, for Camp Lejeune.

 Examples of American-natives, who left great legacies with the Marine Corps and had their part in securing the freedom of this great nation, were the “code talkers” of World War II. The government used the Navajo language to develop a code for the military. The Japanese never broke the code. A Native American was also there for the iconic image of raising the flag over Iwo Jima. Cpl. Ira Hayes, A Pima Indian, was one of the Marines captured in the photo that galvanized the Nation.

 “The American Indians, representation in the Marines Corps is just another example of how diverse and unique our Corps is,” said Queiro.

 Demonstrating their conspicuous gallantry in support of the Global War on Terrorism people of indigenous decent have received four bronze stars with the combat distinguishing device, one Silver Star and a Navy Cross, according to the Marine Administration Message 493/06.

 “The distinctions these Marines received speak for American Indians and Alaskan Natives honor, courage, esprit de corps and true American spirit,” said Queiro.