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Today, join me in honoring our veterans

Today, join me in honoring our veterans

Dear Friends and Fellow Veterans,

Today, Veterans Day 2019, holds a very special place in my heart. As a Marine, it is special to me because I was serving in the Marines when I won the gold medal in the 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Even more so, today I hope you join me in honoring those millions of my fellow veterans who have served in all branches of the military.

Throughout American history, Native Americans served in the Union Army during the Civil War; in World War I 12,000  Native people enlisted to serve in the military (even though they were not yet considered U.S. citizens); and in World War II, more than 44,000 Native Americans served – a number equal to 10 percent of the American Indian population.

More recently, in Vietnam, more than 42,000 Native Americans served in the war – and the vast majority were not drafted. 90% of them volunteered to fight in the service of our country.

Native American men and women have continued to enlist in campaigns in the Middle East including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In fact, according to the Department of Defense in 2010, 22,569 enlisted servicemembers and 1,297 officers on active duty were American Indians. I am proud to report that Native people have the highest per-capita involvement of any population to serve in the U.S. military.

I am honored to be able to call myself a veteran, and I hope today you will join with me in taking a moment of silence in recognition of their service, both Native Americans and non-Native Americans alike, for truly keeping our country the home of the brave and the land of the free.

 

Semper Fi

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Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota)

National Spokesperson and co-founder

Running Strong for American Indian Youth®

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