FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- In November, we will be recognizing the historical contributions of the original people of our land, Native Americans. As in all of our cultural observances, we seek to provide a forum for the sharing of culture, tradition, music, craft, dance and ways of life while also highlighting specific contributions to the Army in war and in peacetime.

If you are a history enthusiast, then November should be an ideal month to observe and appreciate the many contributions that Native Americans have made to our nation. From an Army perspective, Native Americans have been making contributions since the first settlers and explorers arrived on the continent.

Native Americans worked alongside the early U.S. Cavalry as scouts. Many American natives were fighting in our wars before they were citizens. In World War I, some 12,000 Native American men and women were among those who served. During World War II, the number of those who served doubled as Native Americans played an instrumental role in encrypting communications with their languages.

Our country has been recognizing Native American contributions since 1916, when the state of New York designated one day to be known as "American Indian Day." In 1990, the observance was expanded to run for the entire month of November.

We will host a Native American Heritage Month observance from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 18 at the Solomon Center. At cultural celebrations such as these, Soldiers and other Fort Jackson community members have an opportunity to learn about the achievements and contributions made by Native Americans.

The Army always has firmly believed that the strength of our nation comes from the diversity of its people. That's why we believe so strongly that it's important for Soldiers of all different backgrounds to take the time to learn about the contributions of others and their heritages. Native Americans have distinguished themselves in the past couple of centuries.

In addition to their military accomplishments, Native Americans have become honored scholars, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and have excelled in many more disciplines, too many to mention in the space that is allocated on this page.

Native Americans are no strangers to hardships and adversity, but they have always confronted challenges with courage and have shown us what honor and resiliency really means. As a nation, we owe a great deal to Native Americans, who have added immeasurably to our heritage, guiding our land stewardship policies and demonstrating unparalleled courage.

Native Americans, along with all of our proud members of various heritages, have always served and continue to serve our country proudly. During this upcoming month, each of us needs to take the time to explore some Native American history.

In our Army, we continue to gain the best-qualified Soldiers from all backgrounds, ensuring that every Soldier gets the opportunity to reach his or her potential.

Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!