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Honoring veterans: A letter from President Mitchell Cypress

The following letter, written by President Mitchell Cypress, an Army and National Guard veteran, appeared in the programs for the Big Cypress and Brighton Veterans Day celebrations.

(Li Cohen)

To our Veterans and Guests,

Today we celebrate, honor and remember our modern day warriors and heroes who so bravely fought and defended this great nation. Native American warriors saw a need, and without hesitation answered the call to protect their people and the nation that had adopted them.

In World War I, over 12,000 native warriors volunteered to fight for freedom, even though Native Americans were not citizens of the United States and did not have any protection under the Constitution. In World War II, over 44,000 Native Americans fought. Why did they do this? Because our people and these men and women knew the importance of honor, integrity and the strength of one’s commitment to promises made. As one veteran stated: “My people signed a peace and friendship treaty with the U.S. and we promised to come to their assistance, and even though they have broken every promise to us, we are still honoring our obligation.”

The example of integrity was set for us long ago by these great men and women who gave their blood and spirit in the service of others. Perhaps they drew on the example of Jesus Christ as he laid down his own life so that we might find eternal happiness? I am inspired by their example, including that of my own brother, who enlisted and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. On this great day, it is my hope and prayer that we all remember and give thanks to those who set the greatest example of service and sacrifice for each of us to follow. To a long list of others grateful for your service, I add my name and that of our Tribe in saying thank you.

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