The following is a statement by Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in honor of all veterans – fallen, retired, or active – on Memorial Day. Keel is a Native veteran who saw more than 20 years of active duty service in the United States Army.
“This Memorial Day, we again pay our respect to those members of the United States military, both Native and non-Native, that have passed on and who served with great honor to protect our lands and our nations. Service is one of the most honorable callings and for over a century Native men and women have offered their lives to ensure brighter days for future generations.
“Today, Native Americans continue to serve in distant lands, however upon returning home they face even greater challenges. Too often services to which Native veterans are entitled fall short of meeting their needs and are less adequate than those provided to their non-Native counterparts. It is our duty to protect and serve those who have served us with such honor. On this Memorial Day, we call on the United States and tribal nations to honor those veterans who have passed on, by supporting those veterans who have returned.”