November 10, 2011

Senator Akaka Applauds the Service of Native American Veterans

Washington D.C. –
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, made the following statement on the service of Native American veterans.
“As Americans across the country reflect upon the sacrifices made by our veterans this Veterans Day, I would like to highlight the incredible contributions that Native Americans – American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians – have made protecting our country.
“Native men and women have bravely served our great country over many, many generations. They have truly played a vital role in defending the United States. American Indians have the highest record of service per capita in our nation today – more than twenty percent of Native males have served or are currently serving in the military. Today, let us take a moment to celebrate the many Native American veterans who have risked their lives to protect us.
“Native Americans have served in the United States armed forces with honor for more than 200 years. Their bravery, determination, and warrior spirit have been recognized by American military leaders since the 18th Century.
“American Indians fought alongside colonists in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, all before they were recognized as American citizens. In the First World War, more than 12,000 American Indians served in the United States military. In World War II more than 44,000 American Indians served out of a total population of less than 350,000.
“The U.S. military used Navajo code talkers to transmit messages by telephone and radio in their native language – a code that our enemies were never able to crack. In World War II, Navajo code talkers participated in every operation the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific and have been credited with contributing to the United States’ success at Iwo Jima.
“Since then, Native Americans have seen duty in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and the Middle East. Their courage, devotion, spiritual strength, wisdom, and fighting spirit have strengthened our armed forces.”
“In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians saw World War II unfold in their own front yard and answered the call to duty. The service of Native Hawaiians in the United States Armed Forces, my own service included, predates Hawaii’s statehood. A number of Native Hawaiians fought in the Civil War when Hawaii was still an independent nation. They also fought in the First World War. And over 2,000 Native Hawaiians served in the United States Army during World War II when Hawaii was a Territory. To this day, Native Hawaiians continue to be over-represented in the U.S. military. Native peoples have attained high recognition for their service, including Korean War Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau, the first Native Hawaiian to be awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously. More recently, Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously to Native Hawaiian World War II soldier Captain Francis Wai and Native Hawaiian Korean War soldier Pfc. Anthony Kahoohanohano.
“As a World War II veteran, I know the great sacrifice that it takes to leave your family and fight for your country. Going to war involves hardship and heartbreak. But Native American veterans have continuously fought for our freedoms. They should be commended for their service and dedication to defending America.
“Mahalo nui loa to all of our nation’s veterans for their service.”
Contact: Emily Deimel
Contact Phone: 202-224-3667
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