By Jody Rust
C-EB High School and Junior High recently hosted several speakers.
First students listened to a presentation from the Dakota Radio Group’s 2018 “Think & Drive. ..It’s Your Choice” program, with speakers Harmony McKee, a student from the Standing Rock reservation who had overcame bullying in her school who was asked to share her experience with others, and Anthony and AJ Farinacci, a father and son team that shared their story about AJ’s 12-year addiction to drugs and how his addiction impacted his father, family and life.
AJ Farinacci told students that they needed four things in this society: a driver’s license, a bank account, a line of credit, and goal — “something you have a passion for,” he said in his strong New England accent.
AJ described how bad his life had gotten while he used drugs, and spoke about the role the law, animals and family had in helping him to overcome his addiction.
“A lot of time, animals are very powerful. Dogs listen and obey, and they give you a sense of power, and that makes me feel good. A lot of guys look for it [power] in the wrong places,” AJ said.
While in prison, AJ said he “rebuilt a dog,” and in that process, he had responsibility and someone that just listened to him. He was a part of a program in which he helped train police dogs to sniff for phones.
He was able to have his father, Anthony, adopt the first dog he trained, and still has him to this day.
AJ encouraged students to find their higher power, practice dedication and discipline, reach out to someone else when they are struggling — in person, not on social media.
Another speaker that came to C-EB was Russell Hawkins, whose stepfather was Master Sergeant Woodrow Keeble of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe and who was honored posthumously with the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the Korean War.
Hawkins emphasized the personal sacrifices Keeble made to earn the medal, and he emphasized the fact that while a fierce warrior on the battlefield, Keeble was a gentle giant at home.
Keeble is the first Native American and Dakota Sioux man to earn the Medal of Honor for his acts of bravery against the Chinese forces in 1951, where he fought through shrapnel and bullet wounds, single-handedly taking out three heavily fortified posts from which the Chinese were able to pin down the Americans.
After the war, Keeble suffered 7 strokes and on his 8th stroke, he passed onto the spirit world in 1982, before his paperwork was processed and Congress approved his eligibility for the medal.
Hawkins said that the delay in the military’s issuance of the medal to Keeble was a matter of misplaced paperwork and bureaucratic red tape and not race. All 100 men who fought beside Keeble signed the paperwork — sent twice to the U.S. government — in support of honoring Keeble for his valor.
The speakers that presented at C-EB shared inspiring stories of strength and triumph from an Italian American’s perspective and a Dakota warrior’s perspective.