Honoring our relatives who served

Indian Country Today

Indigenous Veterans from around Indian Country join us for our special Veterans Day newscast

Many people have Wednesday off in observance of Veterans Day. The holiday was established after World War I, in November 1919, by President Woodrow Wilson.

On a special Veterans Day newscast, we are joined by Indigenous veterans Lavetta "Sissy" Fox, Pacer Renia and Harvey Pratt. 

Some quotes from the Wednesday's show:

Sissy Fox

"Oh my gosh. Just from the statistics that you just talked about, we have generations and generations of military service in my family. Grandfather was in World War II. My uncle was in Vietnam, my father was in Vietnam, and I have a sister that was in Kuwait, and then of course, me. I was in Iraq. And then it goes on, you know, generations and generations, plenty of warriors. We were all Army, except we had one that was kind of the odd duck and he joined the Marine Corps."

"Oh, I was a little bit later. So a lot of it was done through email, but the same thing. My mom would send packages, and we'd get Christmas cookies and she'd package them the best she could. But most of the time when we got them, you can pretty much shake them up and all the Christmas cookies would be falling out of the cracks, but it was kind of the same too. I think as Native people, that's what we do we share. And that's what I did. I did that too. I shared whatever I had with my soldiers and anyone because a lot of soldiers didn't get packages either. So that's what we did. We always shared with each other. So it was all special for my mom to always send, she'd always send the extra too."

Pacer Renia

"After high school I had an opportunity to go to school. But I wanted to get out of the community for a little bit, just to get out there and to explore. And it's one thing that I know about myself. Even when I was a young kid, I was a very very much an explorer. So the military gave me an opportunity to leave the community and go and be amongst other people and be put in places that I was unaware of. I hadn't heard of before. And that's even something that I encourage my kids to do to this day to get out there and explore, to learn a little bit more about the world other than what's in your community."

"A majority of my enlistment I spent overseas. Even though I was stationed at Fort Bragg we were sent overseas. I spent six months in Egypt and then Operation Desert Shield, and Storm. And it was those letters that really were always interesting to read because it gave me an idea of like Harvey said, what the family was going through. And I received letters from my mother and from my father. But I wasn't very much into writing at the time. But I do know that they, the letters that I did send to my mother, I mostly wrote to my mother when I did. She held onto them for me. And when I returned back, she didn't give them to me right away. I think she waited like maybe five or six years, and then she gave them to me. But she said something that I remembered when I was in Desert Shield and Storm over in Saudi Arabia. She said, 'Getting a letter from you meant so much. That meant a lot to me to hear that you were OK and that you were safe.'"

Harvey Pratt

"I think I was just kind of bored with life. I was in college, but I just wasn't feeling satisfied. And so I've always admired veterans. I have an uncle, a veteran in the Marine Corps in World War II. I have an older brother who was in the Navy. And so I told my mother that I joined the Marine Corps, and I call it a silent scream. Her mouth fell open, and she just stared at me. And she started crying, and I thought that it's not that bad. But then as I got older, I realized that her younger brother served in World War II who had been wounded several times and was missing in action. And, and the whole family lives those things. Your family goes with your veterans, and they worry about you, and they prayed for you. And they lived those things. And I realized that that's what she was thinking about was, 'Oh my God, that's what happened to my little brother. And now you're getting into the same boat?'"

"Well, I have three brothers and three sisters and my mother. So I got quite a bit of mail from my family. I appreciate it, I wrote all the time. I was constantly writing. In 1963, when I was in Vietnam before combat troops were supposed to be there, things were shipped to us like Christmas and things like that. And cakes  we'd finally get it, and it'd be hard as a rock. Pastries would just be like a stone. And we used to laugh about that, you know, about sending this to get to us."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

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