Cherokee honors Veterans with Celebration and Parade
By Scott McKie B.P.
One Feather staff
“It’s a very special day for those of us who have served our country in uniform and for our families who served along with us,” said Lew Harding, Commander of Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 as he opened a Veteran’s Day Celebration held Wednesday, Nov. 11 at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.
The event, which was organized by Post 143, was dedicated to the memory of Col. Tom Johnson, a U.S. Army Veteran and Silver Star Recipient who previously worked at Cherokee High School.
“When America is looking for heroes, all you have to do is look around,” said Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell who is a veteran. “They are right here. I applaud all of you who served. I wished we had more that were willing to step up and serve in this day.”
American Legion Post 143 honored several people during the event including TCGE chairperson Norma Moss who received the American Legion Distinguished Service Award as “Tribal Leader of the Year”. Veterans Ray West and Glenn Ladd both received the American Legion Leadership Award as they were named “Legionnaires of the Year”.
Several patriotic musical presentations were a part of the event including: Miss Cherokee Rachel Hicks singing “My Country Tis of Thee” in the Cherokee language and in English and Phyllis Shell, a U.S. Army veteran, singing “An Honor to Serve”.
Steve Kiba, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War and former P.O.W., was the keynote speaker. He told of his time spent in a Chinese prison following his capture after his plane was shot down in frigid conditions in Korea.
Following Kiba’s speech, a wreath was placed to honor fallen comrades by Col. Bob Blankenship, U.S. Army veteran; Sgt. Joe Castorena, U.S. Army veteran; and Maj. William Underwood, U.S. Army veteran. Members of the Cherokee High School JROTC Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute after the wreath was placed and “Taps” was played as everyone stood in silent reverence.
Later in the day, a parade was held through the streets of Cherokee to honor veterans. Organized by EBCI tribal member Dave Jumper, the parade was reported to be the first of its kind held in Cherokee.
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