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Remembering Native Americans’ military sacrifices this Memorial Day

“Veterans,” acrylic on canvas, by Jesse T. Hummingbird (Cherokee, b. 1952) celebrates the generations of Native Americans who have, and still do, serve in the various branches of the U.S. military. The painting is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Indian.

This Memorial Day many of us are incorporating honoring fallen U.S. military men and women into our more recreational activities. That’s easy to do if you live in or visit the national capital area.

Washington, D.C., is full of monuments and museums, many of which have special military-themed exhibits, either as permanent displays or shown on special days like Memorial Day.

One such exhibit is at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Its Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces, which includes the Jesse T. Hummingbird’s painting “Veterans” at the top of this post, honors the generations of Native Americans who have served in various U.S. armed forces, some making the ultimate sacrifice.

Generations of Indigenous service personnel: The contribution of the Navajo Code Talkers was vital in the Allied Forces eventual win in World War II. But the military initially learned the value of this Native language in World War I, when the first Native code talkers transmitted messages that German eavesdroppers found impossible to decipher.

As the NMAI exhibit notes, Indigenous people have served in the U.S. military, often in extraordinary numbers, since the American Revolution. They do so for the same reason all American soldiers, sailors, and pilots do: to demonstrate patriotism or pursue employment, education, or adventure.

So be sure, especially on this Memorial Day, to remember and honor all our U.S. service people who gave their all for the United States.

And if you’re interested in some military financial and tax considerations, you might find these prior Memorial Day blog posts of interest:




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