By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
America’s heroes were honored at the Cherokee Indian Fair on Veteran’s Day, Friday, Oct. 6. The day started with the 1st Annual Veteran’s Walk, followed by a lunch provided to all veterans, and then veterans and their families filed into the grandstands at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds for an honoring program.
The event was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, and the flags were posted by a joint color guard consisting of Army Jr. ROTC cadets from Cherokee High School and Air Force Jr. ROTC cadets from Swain Co. High School. It was noted this is the first time the two schools have joined together as a color guard.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spoke of service in his opening remarks. “We use this word as a description and recognition of the duty and the sacrifice an individual enters into when they are a member of the armed forces. We bestow honor upon those who served in recognition of their high calling. To serve is in fact the highest calling. Jesus said, ‘whoever desires to be greatest among you must be a servant to all’. Servicemen and servicewomen recognize the high calling of serving our country.”
He said all veterans are servants. “Whether in a time of peace or a time of conflict, we served. We willingly place on hold our families, our aspirations, our dreams, and in fact, our very lives in order to protect and preserve a more perfect union, to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty…”
Chief Sneed presented special Certificate of Appreciation plaques to each veteran present. All five branches of service were represented at Friday’s event.
Several World War II veterans were recognized and honored during the event including Former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer, U.S. Marine Corps; Reuben Taylor, U.S. Army; and Wayne Carringer, U.S. Army. Chief Youngdeer, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion was wounded at Guadalcanal and received the Purple Heart. Taylor, a recipient of both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, was a member of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 16, 1944. Carringer is one of the last remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March.
The Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild was on hand to distribute Quilts of Valor to around 15 veterans. Since starting, the Quilts of Valor program has distributed over 169,000 quilts, and on Friday, the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild presented its 836th quilt.
For their service to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians over the last few years in presenting Quilts of Valor to veterans, Warren Dupree, Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143, presented a check in the amount of $1,000 to the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild from the Tribe.
Chief Sneed summed up the day’s events, “We honor veterans today because of their service. We honor veterans today because of their sacrifice. We bestow double honor to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the protection of our freedom. All gave some. Some gave all. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.”