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Veterans Memorial to mark completion online

Organizers of the newly completed National Native American Veterans Memorial were putting together the final touches for a grand procession and dedication ceremony to take place on Veterans Day when Covid-19 became a global pandemic in March.

Those plans came to an abrupt halt when museums and venues across the country began to close their doors to the public.

Many, like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., are still temporarily closed.

The memorial’s home is located on the grounds adjacent to the museum.

But even though the events at the memorial have been derailed or postponed, there will be an online dedication to mark the memorial’s completion on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Hosted by the museum, the virtual event will also acknowledge the service and sacrifice of Native veterans and their families. It’s been a long and winding road to the memorial’s completion.

After a series of fits and starts, the U.S. Congress eventually commissioned it and its design and construction moved forward. It is the first national landmark in the nation’s capital to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who served in the U.S. military.

Historians say Native Americans have served in every branch of the U.S. military since the American Revolution and in larger numbers per capita than any other ethnic group.

An illustration of Harvey Pratt’s design for the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian. (Rendering courtesy
NMAI)

The interactive memorial was designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma) – a multimedia artist, retired forensic artist and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.

It consists of a large elevated stainless steel circle balanced on a carved stone drum. The structure incorporates water for sacred ceremonies and benches for public gathering and individual reflection.

The final details for the Nov. 11 online ceremony had not been released at press time.

To stay up-to-date, visit americanindian.si.edu or email navmdedication@si.edu.

Organizers said they are also planning to reschedule the original in-person procession and dedication for a future date.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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