In honor of Veterans Day, editor Elise McMullen-Ciotti writes about military service within Indigenous communities.
Did you know that American Indians and Alaska Natives serve in the military at five times the national average and have the highest per capita involvement than any other US population? (NICOA, USO). As a book editor, when I have the privilege of receiving a new manuscript that features modern Indigenous characters, I can usually find at least one character in the book who has served or is serving in the military. This is not surprising! Military service within our communities is par for the course — a big part of our living culture. When those in the service return home, they are not just returning home to the US but also to our own sovereign Native Nations. Military service is a big deal.
This Sunday is Veterans Day, a national holiday to honor veterans, servicemen and servicewomen who fought or are currently fighting in armed services. Originally named ‘Armistice Day’ on its creation in 1919 by President Wilson, the day was dedicated to “the heroism of those who died in the country’s service” and celebrated the WWI victory which allowed America to bestow peace and justice to other nations. In the aftermath of World War II, which caused the largest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the history of the nation up until that point, and America’s participation in the Korean War, Congress amended the day to be called ‘Veterans Day’ on June 1, 1954. Veterans Day would fall annually on November 11th and be a day to honor American veterans of all wars.