By Jacob Wamego, President and CEO of Prairie Band, LLC
Many of us think of Veterans Day as just another holiday but we cannot forget about the folks that have sacrificed so much for us. The privileges and freedoms we enjoy come at a cost. November 11 helps us to focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: “A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
We-ta-se (one who is brave or Brave Warrior) is a Potawatomi description for veterans. Traditionally, there were other words used to describe the different “deeds” or actions warriors took during their life (those that killed, planned, were wounded, etc.). In our traditional ceremonies, there are songs we sing that honor those that are wounded, lead the charge, planned the battle, tended the wounded, took trophies, carried out the order, to name a few. Only those warriors that accomplished these deeds could dance and share their stories. Our elders prayed that there would come a day when no one was dancing because we were no longer fighting. That day has not arrived yet but in my lifetime, I see fewer people that have these honored rights.
One thing that will never cease to exist is our reverence for veterans. Our community has lost many veterans over the years. They were good friends, good people and a real loss to their families, culture, ceremonies, and our tribe. I miss them and think about them often, not just on Veterans Day. Some passed away young, and one might think that wasn’t much of a reward for their sacrifice. In our traditional beliefs, veterans are to be honored and have a special status in the place our creator set aside for us in the “here ever after.”
As I wrote this, I felt a deep sense of gratitude and sadness for the trauma our veterans experienced and continue to endure because of their experiences. I also appreciate our peace time veterans and the tremendous sacrifice they made for us and our country. Please remember our veterans on this month’s holiday and honor them every day.
Jacob Wamego Prairie Band, LLC CEO