Saturday, June 19, 2021

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WRE Editorial Board: Veterans

In this week’s issue of the West River Eagle we celebrate the long history of military service on Cheyenne River and the contributions of all veterans. We also draw attention to the successful electoral process and the promise of a smooth transition of power across the United States in the wake of the 2020 elections. Native Americans tend to serve in the armed forced at a higher percentage than other ethnicities. According to the National Indian Council on Aging, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives serve at five times the national average and Native people have the highest per-capita involvement of any population to serve in the US military. Native women also serve at a higher rate than other ethnicities. The 2010 Census identified over 150,000 Native American veterans, ranging from World War II to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Twenty-seven Native Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Native Americans have fought for the United States in every conflict on this continent since the Revolutionary War. This service is despite the heavy toll of colonization, indigenous genocide, and ongoing systemic racism. Military service to our country is a value that runs deep and cuts across all political divisions and racial boundaries. On Cheyenne River military service binds veterans together in ceremonies and remembrances throughout the year. Americans across the country and across the world are bound together this week in our wonder at the ongoing experiment of American democracy. More people voted for president in this election than have ever voted before. That alone is a win for America, despite political polarization. We, the people, will continue our involvement in our own governing, whether through local elections or traditional councils. We will march, we will meet, we will educate ourselves on the issues, we will debate, we will change our minds and we will change minds. We will keep evolving and we will keep dreaming of what America can be. We will speak truth to power. We will share our experience of marginalization and prejudice with those is privilege until they hear us and we come together. Our active military and our veterans took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not any one person or political ideology; and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. This loyalty to a document – to the idea of America – is what makes democracy innovative. We are firmly convinced that the idea of America is alive and imaginative enough to keep expanding its idea of what it means to be an American. We will not fall prey to originalism, the idea that if the Founders didn’t write about an idea in the Constitution then modern people have no right to add our thoughts to the document. Racism, sexism, and the patriarchy were built into the Constitution because they were built into the world view of the Founders. As we expand our vision of the world, our idea of America expands. In the days to come, let us support the transition to a new presidential administration, to a new Congress, to new legislative bodies in state houses and town halls and tribal councils across the continent, and welcome the next dream of what America can be.

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