NARF: Indian veterans made the ultimate sacrifice
November is National Native American Month. Join the Native American Rights Fund as we celebrate and remember the heritage of Native Americans who have laid down their lives to help defend and preserve America’s democratic ideals. They have proudly and courageously served in every major conflict from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War, so it is appropriate that National Native American Month is celebrated during November, the same month in which Veterans Day is observed.

Today NARF especially remembers our American Indian Military Veterans and honors all Modern Day Warriors and Heroes, past, present and future. Native Americans have served their country with honor for generations, and we salute them.

Dr. Joe Medicine Crow (Crow) was presented earlier this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President Barack Obama. He added that to his collection: a Congressional Gold Medal, a Bronze Star and Legion d'honneur, the highest decoration given in France. During his military service, Medicine Crow completed all four tasks to become a Crow war chief, including touching a living enemy soldier, disarming an enemy, leading a successful war party and stealing an enemy horse.

Army Spc. Lori Piestewa (Hopi) was aware of Indian women who served America before her. This 23-year-old soldier became the first service woman killed in action in Iraq, and the first American Indian woman killed in combat. Her death, on March 23, 2003, touched a grateful nation and changed the name of the most prominent mountain near Phoenix to Piestewa Peak.

In the 20th century, five American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States' highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty," these warriors exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy and, in two cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. - Jack C. Montgomery (Cherokee), Ernest Childers (Creek), Van Barfoot (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians), Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (Ho-Chunk), and Charles George (Eastern Band of Cherokee).

You can honor American Indian veterans by acknowledging their sacrifice to your friends and family members and learning more about the history of their service by visiting your local library, bookstore or veterans hospital.