On March 21, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa India Community officially became a Purple Heart Community and celebrated with a ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River. Many gathered for the special event, including military veterans and SRPMIC officials, to witness the unveiling of the Purple Heart Community sign, the distribution of certificates of appreciation, and the Purple Heart recipients’ roll call.
Council Member Tom Largo kicked off the event with an opening prayer, and American Legion Bushmasters Post #114 posted the colors. Former Miss Salt River Isabella Dockerty sang the national anthem in O’odham, and current Miss Salt River Sistine Lewis conducted the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Welcome to the Community; this is the home of the Pima-Maricopa tribe,” said SRPMIC President Martin Harvier as he welcomed the guests. “I wanted to point out that there are two distinct cultures here in our Community, but I can tell you both tribes are represented very well as veterans of the wars that have happened in the world.”
Harvier explained that in his research on the Purple Heart he learned that there are more than 10,000 Purple Heart recipients who reside in Arizona.
“It makes me feel grateful for the freedoms that we have. I know that many paid [the ultimate sacrifice], but many in our state received a Purple Heart for being [combat] wounded. Looking out in the audience, I just really want to say thank you personally,” said Harvier to all the guests who have received the Purple Heart. “There’s wars and rumors of wars, so there’s always going to be wars. There’s going to be individuals that are going to be asked to step up, and there’s always going to be individuals that are going to get wounded or hurt in action or pay the ultimate sacrifice. So today this is really a special day for us here in the Community.”
Harvier explained that Arizona became a Purple Heart State on May 9, 2016. Fifteen counties and more than 30 Arizona cities and towns have declared themselves Purple Heart communities.
“With support from many of our Community veterans, the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S. Department of Arizona invited the Community to also become a Purple Heart community,” said Harvier. “The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community will be the first Native American community in the Southwest region of the United States to be proclaimed as a Purple Heart community. Council approved the resolution on February 2, 2022.”
The Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military decoration. The resolution read in part: “The Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who have been wounded or have died by an instrument of war in the hands of the nation’s enemies. It is the Community’s heartfelt intent to recognize, honor, and to declare our appreciation for the sacrifices that our Purple Heart recipients have made while serving to protect and defend the freedoms enjoyed by the Community and this nation.”
National Legislative Director Charles Byers delivered the message from the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“We started this journey over two years ago to try to make a first Purple Heart community with an Indian community. I made the presentation and we worked with Council members, and finally, this all came together,” said Byers. “It’s important because of what the Purple Heart stands for; as we know, it is the oldest medal, the first military badge of merit. It’s only fitting that we’re here today at the USS Arizona Memorial, because we lost over 1,700 members that went down on the Arizona and they’ve all received the Purple Heart. It’s important that we recognize the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community as a Purple Heart entity.”
Byers and Department of Arizona Commander John Moore presented coins and certificates to those who received a certificate of appreciation.
The first certificate was given to President Harvier; Vice-President Ricardo Leonard; Council Members Tom Largo, Diane Enos, Wi-bwa Grey, Cheryl Doka, Deanna Scabby, Michael Dallas and David Anton; Community Manager Bryan Meyers and Assistant Community Managers Carla Banuelos, Lena Jackson, Doran Dalton and Blessing McAnlis-Vasquez; Veterans Representatives Amanda White, Tory Truax, and Sierra Malin; Administration Director Glen Law; and Timothy Carson accepted the certificate on behalf of Public Works Civil Engineering/Roads Department.
The certificate reads: “To all who shall see these presents, greetings, be it known that this certificate of appreciation is presented to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Please accept our sincere gratitude for the support you have provided to the veteran community in Arizona. Efforts such as becoming a Purple Heart Community and creating this wonderful USS Arizona Memorial Gardens have made veterans feel welcome in their Community. Your business, Community and tribal support on behalf of veterans has led to veterans obtaining help for disabilities, PTSD issues, traumatic brain injury, financial problems and homelessness. Thank you to your Community for helping veterans and their families during their time of need.”
Two other certificates were given to two SRPMIC members who are Purple Heart recipients: Larson Enos, Sr. (U.S. Army) and Cameron Grey Sr. (U.S. Marine Corps). Their certificates read: “Please accept our sincere gratitude for your service and sacrifice to our nation, to our citizens, to the United States Army/United States Marine Corps, and most importantly to your fellow soldiers. As a recipient of one of our nation’s most respected medals, you represent an extraordinary group of citizens that have shared blood in defense of our nation. Our entire nation can be proud of your sacrifice when you were wounded while serving in the military. We hope that you and your family will reflect with pride on your service, memories you have made and the lives that you touched.”
Byers and Vice-President Leonard unveiled the SRPMIC Welcome Purple Heart Community sign. Following the sign unveiling, Malin read the names of the Community’s Purple Heart recipients.
“The SRPMIC would like to recognize, honor and declare our appreciation for the sacrifices that our Purple Heart recipients have made while serving to protect and defend our freedoms enjoyed by the Community and this nation,” Malin said.
Vice-President Leonard closed the ceremony with some remarks and a prayer.
“The military at this time has always been and always will be a brotherhood. Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force—we’re all veterans,” said Leonard as he reminisced about Community veterans. “We’re all brothers and sisters, and [we] fight for this country to keep it free. I hope one day that the rest of the world can understand this, the rest of the United States can understand this.”
- SRPMIC Purple Heart Recipients
- Wallace Antone
- Wesley Bernard
- Clarence Chiago
- Gordon Enos
- Larson Enos, Sr.
- Leonard Enos
- Alfred Ferguson
- Cameron Grey, Sr.
- Dean Jackson
- Frederick James
- Herman Juan
- Matthew Juan
- Simon Kovoka
- Phillip Largo
- David Lewis
- Delmar Manuel
- Sullivan Manuel
- Lemuel Miguel
- Percy Osif
- Alfred Perkins
- Albert Ray
- Verton Ray
- Everett Rhoades
- Roderick Shaw
- Harry Smith
- Joseph Thomas
- Fred Washington