Every year, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community gathers on Veterans Day, November 11, to honor and remember the 400-plus Community members who have served or are currently serving in the military. This year, the Community’s Veterans Office hosted its annual celebration at the Lehi Community Center; the theme was “Every Veteran Has a Family That Serves Too.”
Veterans and their families were greeted with an array of patriotic decorations. A slideshow featuring photos of Community veterans along with drawings made by students from Salt River Elementary School played on the Community Center’s indoor projector screen.
Veterans in attendance received a goodie bag featuring a T-shirt, coffee thermos and a license plate protector denoting their military branch.
Veterans Representative Assistant Sierra Malin from the SRPMIC Veterans Office served as emcee for the event. “It’s an honor to be with you all today to recognize our veterans and their families,” she began in her welcoming speech. “Veterans have chosen to put their lives on the line, and because of that we owe them a debt of gratitude,” she said.
In his welcoming prayer, SRPMIC Council member Michael Dallas Sr. read scripture from the Book of Jeremiah, verse 30:17. “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” he said. He expressed thanks for the sacrifice of those who dedicated their lives to their country in addition to the sacrifices made by their families. “The freedom we have, they say it’s free, but we know there was a sacrifice that was laid [down] for it, and we honor and acknowledge our veterans,” Dallas said.
The American Legion Post 114 Bushmasters proudly presented the colors as Isabella Dockerty sang the national anthem in O’odham. Miss Salt River 2023 Jizelle Juan and Jr. Miss Salt River First Attendant Patricia Woody followed Dockerty’s performance by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in tandem.
Afterward, SRPMIC President Martin Harvier said a few words about how much it means to him that the Community honors its veterans. “Today, throughout the country, people are gathered just as we are here to recognize those men and women who have put on the uniform that allows us the freedoms that we enjoy today,” he stated.
The program then allowed active-duty military, veterans and their family members an opportunity to either share their service by stating their rank, branch and conflict or the name of the veteran they are honoring. A common theme throughout was that many came from a long line of family members serving in the military. There were others who did not make it out of basic training, and some enlisted when they were only 16 years old. One family member touched on her father’s love of the flag and how she continues that honor by flying the flag daily in his memory.
SRPMIC Council member Deanna Scabby officially wrapped up the 2023 SRPMIC Veterans Day Celebration with a closing prayer. “We’re so thankful that we’re able to be here and acknowledge our loved ones, those who have served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.