Opinion

Ivan Star Comes Out: Veterans at Standing Rock for the good fight






A #NoDAPL water protection effort in North Dakota on November 24, 2016. Photo by Rob Wilson [GoFundMe]

Standing Rock deployment of ‘veterans’ brings back memories of Vietnam
By Ivan F. Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist
nativesunnews.today

Upon hearing the news of a “deployment” of military veterans to Standing Rock for December 4-7, 2016, my mind jumped back to 1968. I can still recall the date, December 1. It was the day I reported to the Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School (SERTS) at Bien Hoa Air Force Base, South Vietnam. I turned 19 on Dec. 4 and was involved in my first firefight the very next day.

1969 was in the midst of the era of “hippies,” “hardhats,” war protests, the draft, the moon landing, and it was the height of the war in South Vietnam. Richard M. Nixon won the presidency and became the only U. S. president to resign his post. The nation was torn in two between those who believed we did not belong in South Vietnam and those who supported the war.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before I accepted the likely prospect that I would not survive my 12-month tour of duty. Somehow though, I survived and came home. Unexpectedly, my group was spit on and called “Baby Killers” and “War Mongers” by war protestors at the Seattle-Tacoma (SEATAC) International Airport. That event occurred on or about my 20th birthday.

I had volunteered for military service because I was a high school dropout. I refused to endure the brutally assimilative school environment in which I was being “educated.” So, my goal was to obtain my GED during my three-year enlistment and then go on to higher education with my earned benefits. It didn’t work out for me though. In retrospect, it seems I was fated to go to that war.

Anyway, on my return, the only people to accept me “as is” were my parents and siblings. Since then, I have been engaged in a solitary battle with my conscience. I realized that I had placed my life on the line to defend an oppressive society that did not actually include me as a native person. In fact, modern-day history texts and the federal government continue to disregard Native America.

Muhammad Ali’s quote regarding the Vietnam War remains prominent in my mind, “I said it once, I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom, and equality…” Ali was drafted into the military but refused to answer his name or take the oath in 1967.


Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Standing Rock deployment of ‘veterans’ brings back memories of Vietnam

(Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at PO Box 147, Oglala, SD 57764; via phone at (605) 867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com)

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