Every year, millions of veterans are honored for their sacrifice and service in the United States Armed Forces. Here within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, 454 reported tribal members have served this country or are currently serving.
On Tuesday, November 11, the SRPMIC recognized those veterans during a Veterans Day program at the Lehi Community Building. The Salt River Young Marines posted the colors and a welcome was given by Darrell Hills, commander of American Legion Post 114 (Bushmasters). The event’s guest speaker was SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier.
Harvier shared a story about the late Rallo Baptisto, who served in the Marines, and reminded those in attendance to pay tribute to all veterans.
“We, as the citizens of this country, take things for granted. We’ve had many individuals here in the Community serve to give us the opportunity to enjoy this life. It feels good to wake up in our own homes, go to the store, or go to church. These are some of the things we take for granted,” said Harvier.
He continued, “This is all because of the men and women who put on their uniforms and serve in the military. We need to make sure that when we see our military, we give them a nod or shake their hand. They put their lives in harm’s way for us to enjoy the freedom and the things that we truly take for granted. Let us never forget the sacrifices that were given; we honor those who are here, but let us never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Following Harvier’s speech, each veteran’s name was read as family members and friends cheered. Delphine Burbank, president of the American Legion Unit 114 Auxiliary, and SRPMIC Veterans Representative E. Pacer Reina delivered a message to the audience before the event ended with lunch.
“I am here to honor the veterans, for the sacrifice that they made and for their dedication to the tribe, the Community and the country. My dad Dixon Andreas was a veteran. He served in World War II. I’m proud that he served and I honor him in that way. I respect what he did. I really enjoyed the program, it was good,” said Community member Gene Andreas.
“It makes me feel good that people came out and showed their respect and showed their thanks for the freedom and liberty that they have. Today, I’ve seen that we’ve come full circle as a Community. It’s not only us as veterans, but family back home [while serving in military] was what we called the ‘home front’; they’re veterans too. It’s really good to see the Community come together, and it feels good to be honored. I’m looking forward to next year,” said veteran and Community member Tony Dallas.
For more information, call E. Pacer Reina, Veterans Representative, at (480) 362-7490.