Cherokee Central Schools dedicated the Cherokee High School Arena the Charles George Memorial Arena on Friday, Dec. 7. in honor of PFC Charles George, an EBCI tribal member who won the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. He gave up his life to save his fellow soldiers.
Members of the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 and CHS JROTC presented colors representing “Past and Future” military service. The Color Guard was made up of Reuben Taylor, Ernie Panther, Ray West, Steve Daggs, Cadets Darion Owl, Kyle Watty, and Eligio Acatitlan.
Several Tribal Council members were in attendance including: Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley, Yellowhill Rep. David Wolfe, Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell and Painttown Rep. Terri Henry. Cherokee Central School Board members Lori Blankenship, Dick Crowe, Gloria Griffin, Charlotte Saunooke, Jessica Daniels and T.W. Saunooke were also at the ceremony.
Miss Cherokee 2012 Karyl Frankiewicz, Miss Teen Cherokee 2012 Bradley Welch, Post 143 service officer Warren Dupree and Ray Kinsland spoke at the event. The family was represented by Patty George Buchanan and Kevin George as well as many grandnieces and grandnephews.
The dedication ceremony opened with a drum song and was followed by the presentation of colors, the National Anthem, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Kinsland said a prayer and provided a history. Dupree read the history and citation of PFC Charles George.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Chairman Jim Owle, CCS Superintendent Walt Swan, and CCS School Board Chairman Lori Blankenship dedicated the arena and presented a plaque to a representative from the George family. A few comments and prayer closed the ceremony with a drum song prelude.
Many students and volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare the arena for the rededication. PFC Charles George’s name in Cherokee syllabary in the schools colors, maroon and gold, was added by the art students above the entrance to the arena. Pictures of Charles George in military service, the Medal of Honor, the citation, and certificate are displayed on the wall to the left upon entering the arena’s second floor. Nestled among these pictures is a bronze plaque with the following statement:
RECIPIENT OF THE
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR
VALOR AND BRAVERY IN ACTION WHICH
SAVED THE LAVES OF FIVE OF HIS COMRADES.
IN THIS ACTION, PRIVATE FIRST CLASS
GEORGE, COMPANY C, 179TH INFANTRY,
42ND DIVISION, LOST HIS LIFE ON
NOVEMBER 30, 1952, DURING THE KOREAN WAR.
HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE EASTERN
BAND OF CHEROKEES. THIS GYMNASIUM IS
NAMED IN HIS HONOR.
STEVE YOUNGDEER POST NO. 143
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA
– Cherokee Central Schools