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National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The sculpture was created by Harry Whitehorse, and as can be seen from the photographs, depicts a Native American soldier, or warrior, composed of bronze. In his right hand is the most prominent and important rifle of the Vietnam War, the M16. In his left hand he plants a staff of eagle feathers, very symbolic of their role and proud heritage in America. The sculpture stands atop a large red granite stone, weighing approximately ten tons. Its role in the monument is to speak of the violence, suffering, and massive sacrifice made. The white quartz also has meaning, depicting purity of the souls who gave their lives, and the four corners show that they did not avoid the situation, but rather sought to tackle the problem head on.
The entire monument is lined on the outside with black granite slabs, and the information they contain is perhaps what is most important in honoring the men. One slab aids in understanding the purpose of the objects and imagery, describing what each aspect of the monument represents. Another slab describes the purpose of creating the monument, which is to honor those men that died and fought in such an unfavorable war. But the others contain a more personal and perhaps heartfelt touch. There you will find the names of all the Native American men that fought and died in Vietnam, as well as where they called home, the day they died, and also how they met their end in such a terrible war. Their tribal affiliation is to be completed soon as well. But this information serves to specifically honor each man that left behind all they knew and loved to never return home. It speaks volumes to their bravery and actions.
Behind the monument stands two flags. To the right one can see the stars and stripes. In fact, there are several surrounding the monument. But, flying to its left is a different flag each day. The purpose of this is to further honor the role of Native American tribes around the country in their fight for bravery and heritage. Each flag is the flag of a different Native American tribe in North America, each taking its turn when its day comes, showing a proud heritage and unity among tribes in their roles in the country and their willingness to defend their homeland, just as their ancestors would have done.
The monument is open twenty-four hours a day. At night, the display can even be more honoring, as the base lights along the walls shine up to the rock and soldier, showing acknowledgment and respect even as darkness falls upon the surrounding land. Admission is free to reach the monument, and from April through October, volunteers are available for more information and tours.
SourcesAdams, Barry, and Associated Press. “The Highground Veterans Memorial Park Celebrates 30 Years.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 22 Sept. 2018, www.startribune.com/the-highground-veterans-memorial-park-celebrates-30-years/494024291/.
Highground's Native American Tribute Flags, www.wiclarkcountyhistory.org/pinevalley/highground/HiGrd_NativeAmericanTributeflags.htm.
“National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, 16 June 2016, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=29599.
“Native Americans in the Military Vietnam War (1959-75).” Forest County Potawatomi, 30 Nov. 2016, www.fcpotawatomi.com/news/native-americans-in-the-military-vietnam-war-1959-75/.
“The National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Highground.” The Highground, www.thehighground.us/tributes_and_facilities/the-national-native-american-vietnam-veterans-memorial/.
Neillsville, Wisconsin 54456
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