Cherokee to hold Veteran’s Day ceremony on Saturday

by Nov 6, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143


Each year on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, we are privileged to honor our Cherokee veterans and all American veterans for their service to our country. Many were impossibly young men and women who faced great danger and made an art form out of bravery. For some, the battles never really ended, including this writer. A casualty of this perpetual war, charitably called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, affects the peace of mind of many that we honor on Veterans Day. Show them that we still care. Be there with them on their day of recognition and appreciation.

Many of my comrades, Vietnam-era veterans, most in their 70s and 80s now, have lived with a sense of betrayal and through an erosion of trust in government. In recent years, this has exploded and has become a deeply held feeling among millions of Americans. We cannot let that denigrate our spirit of patriotism and the very real sacrifices that our veterans have endured.

The men and women who serve us still on active duty will soon be home. Many of them have overcome tremendous life challenges to follow a career of service to their country. Honor them. Lift them up. Be with them. Help them if they have need. Most of all, understand and appreciate what they have done for you and say, “Thank you.”

The Veterans Day Ceremony will be held in the tent adjacent to the American Legion Post 143 building on Acquoni Road beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

A Veteran’s Tribute

It is impossible for me to think about my friend and comrade in arms, Col. Bob Blankenship, without a sense of awe, gratitude, and a deeply held sense of appreciation.

Col. Bob Blankenship, a Vietnam War veteran who received the Bronze Star and 17 Air Medals for his service, speaks during a Memorial Day observance in Cherokee, N.C. on May 31, 2021. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Col. Blankenship’s leadership and service to his family, his community, his tribe, and his country has been exemplary, nothing short of spectacular. His commitment, dedication, sacrifice, and service are examples to us all. He has been my friend, personal hero, and mentor for many years. He is known here at home for his educational, cultural, legislative, and business accomplishments. While on active duty in the Army, he was a leader and warrior in the finest Cherokee tradition. I was privileged to serve with him during the Vietnam conflict. He is a decorated Army combat pilot whose missions were much more dangerous than mine. Our Army Huey and Cobra helicopter pilots flew offensive strike and medivac missions that saved hundreds of American lives. They were flying constantly at low altitudes under hostile enemy fire. The actions of truly patriotic Americans. Recognizing this, actor Mel Gibson memorialized their service in the production of a movie about the Battle of the La Drang Valley.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, this year’s Cherokee Veterans Day program will be dedicated to the service of all our veterans and to the remarkable service of this beloved brother. A hometown hero, Col. Bob Blankenship has helped so many, inspired so many, and lifted up so many. I believe his name will go down in Cherokee history as one of our most accomplished tribal leaders. His years of work as president of our beautiful museum alone would guarantee that. He will be recognized in marble and bronze on a Veteran’s Honor Monument built on a stone pedestal in front of our Cherokee Veterans’ Memorial Center and Museum on Aquoni Road, along with many other veterans and tribal leaders. To Col. Blankenship and the many men and women whose names will be there, we owe a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.

It is my hope that by honoring them and lifting up their service to us all, the Colonel will be comforted during his current health challenges. His impact on our tribe and on Cherokee history is and has been significant and profound. Historic achievement by any measure.

Col. Blankenship, as you struggle with your healing, beloved brother, we stand with you. We honor you and we love you. You will always be a part of us. God bless you.