BAGHDAD - The contributions of Native Americans to American history, as well as the military, are quintessentially, well, American.
November marks Native American History Month and is intended to celebrate and commemorate the rich culture of the various Indian nations, said Sgt. 1st Class Tamatha Denton, from New York.
"The theme for this year is 'Understanding American Indian Heritage Now and Then,'" she said. "We're touching on military service all the way back from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism."
This year observance for Multi-National Division Baghdad Soldiers, here, will have storytellers relating the history of Native American military service as well as traditional foods. Stories will include the famous code talkers of World War II, whose secret code, transmitted in the Navajo language, confounded the Japanese and was never decoded. Also touched upon will be more modern heroes such as Spc. Lori Piestewa, who was the first Native American woman to die in combat when her convoy came under attack outside Nasiriyah during the opening month of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The participation of Native Americans in the U.S. military is long and storied, with 25 Medal of Honor winners, Denton explained.
"Their involvement in U.S. military service is higher per capita than any other ethnic group in the United States," she said. "That speaks volumes."
The first official observance of Native American history month was November 1990, when it was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.
"November was chosen for obvious reasons: the first Thanksgiving," she explained. "Also that's the end of the harvest - traditionally Native Americans celebrate the end of the harvest and give thanks."
During the month of November, let us remember and celebrate the contributions of Native Americans to our nation's proud history and honor those who served in our armed forces.
For those wishing to participate and celebrate Native American History Month, an observance will be held at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center, on Camp Liberty, Nov. 27.