Saturday, November 14, 2009

Native American Veterans Honored By Mashantucket Pequot Nation

Native American Veterans Honored
By Bill Donehey (Mohegan), U.S. Army Veteran
November 14, 2009

Mashantucket, CT. - The sixth annual ceremony to honor Native American veterans for their military service took place Saturday, November 14, 2009 at the Pequot Museum at Mashantucket, CT. Native American veterans were treated to a lunch of salad, lasagna, fresh fruits and cookies at The Mashantucket Tribally sponsored event, hosted by Trudy Lamb Richmond, director of public programs at the Pequot Museum.

The ceremony was held in the main gathering space, the heavy rain cascaded down the glass enclosure as if the creators’ tears were being shed for those veterans unable to be present for the recognition they so richly deserved.

The main speaker was Mashantucket War Chief Stan Harris, U.S. Navy veteran. Mr. Harris was introduced by his son a former marine and desert storm warrior. Stan talked about the day his son embarked for overseas duty and how he stood and watched as his plane became a distant speck in the sky. Only then would he leave the airport. From that moment on each night as he lie in bed praying to the creator to keep his son safe did he understand what sacrifice meant. The first phone call he received from his son was the day he knew his boy was changed forever, Stan asked “how you doin' son?” Silence for a moment and then his usually energetic and enthusiastic son replied in a soft quiet tone, “I’m ok I guess”, Stan sensed something was wrong and asked, “Son? What is it?” and his son replied “I killed someone today…” His son had been changed forever.

When Stan’s son returned home Stan knew he had to do something to help him readjust, so they went to the drag races at the local fair grounds. a beautiful day for father and son bonding, good food, beautiful cars and friendship, suddenly overhead the roar of four fighter jets in formation flew over. Stan looked up to admire the sight, his son meanwhile dove on the ground rolling for cover under a table. His son had been changed forever…

Stan told the audience that to be a veteran, whether it was being a cop on the street fighting a war on crime or the teenage soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan or other parts of the world, the word veteran means sacrifice and we all need to appreciate them. Appreciate them for our ability to roam as we please, to go shopping, the movies, go to any church we want to worship in and if we please, to take for granted the freedoms we enjoy. Stan and his son sacrificed for our country and they were never the same.