Honoring the Native WWI Doughboy on Memorial Day in Michigan
The Coleman Veterans Memorial in Coleman, Michigan, named United by Sacrifice, recently added its sixth bronze life-size statute and is holding a dedication ceremony on Memorial Day, May 26, at 11 a.m. This newest statute represents a WWI Native American Doughboy and was designed with authentic garments and equipment of the era.
The first two soldiers placed at the memorial represent the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; the first soldier is walking into the courtyard to honor a fallen comrade and the second is that of a woman combat soldier. These two soldiers are a shade of brown to depict the living and stand side-by-side.
The remaining statutes are a shade of white representing the spirits of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The third statute represents the Vietnam Era and his hand is reaching out to offer strength. The fourth represents Korea and the fifth statute placed at the memorial represents WWII. The statutes were all placed to make them look like they are filing into the courtyard to honor and console a comrade.
The city of Coleman is located next to tribal lands and has close ties to the Native Americans who settled in the area. Lindze Ritter (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe) is a volunteer who has made it her mission to spread word of the monuments dedication. As an Ojibwa woman, she has been asked by the memorial committee to take part in the dedication by singing an honor song with her hand drum.
“I think the statute is a formidable representation of our dedication to the land as a people and our resilience. It’s really emotional to stand in front of the memorial,” she said. “It must have been really challenging to a persons integrity to fight in the World Wars when we were facing so many other obstacles as Indigenous Peoples. It’s a powerful statement for our warriors to be honored this way; we still have our warrior societies among our tribal nations who are working for the protection of the people. I can hardly describe in words being there when they raised the statute – to be a part of that and to see them lifting that veteran into place in a locale I knew was so close to my families heart was very moving,” she said.
Prior to the statutes dedication, there will be a parade at 10 a.m. The tribe located nearest the memorial, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, has been asked to participate in the parade. The Coleman Veterans Memorial is located at 501 E. Washington St., in Coleman, Michigan. Coleman is a small community located in central Michigan with a deep-seated respect and reverence for our nations heroes.
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