Beaver, Excuse my personal attack; I just can’t help myself. I often, especially these days, think of my military service and my personal sacrifice to protect certain universal rights commonly held by Indians and contemporary Americans. And, I wonder why I even bothered. Given the history of the U.S. military, there will always be Indians who will argue against serving, just as there are professors railing against those who protect their freedom of speech to rail in the classroom. I prefer to think of our heroes, like Phillip Deere, Ernie Benedict, Vine Deloria, Dick LaCourse and hundreds more, whose right to exist and spread their values was protected while I was on watch in the USMC. Let me put it another way: My service in no way undermines the same sovereigntist line that my uncles and aunts before me protected for my benefit, my grandson’s benefit, my nieces and nephews benefit—and even your benefit, Beaver. My decision to join the USMC was made easy by the fact that my family has a history of serving in combat and, quite frankly, I was attracted to the life-risking challenges that the corps offered a strong, energetic youthful male. Did that make me any less sovereign, or separated from my roots because I chose that way of life for a few years? Absolutely not. (As my FBI file will attest, I also picked up some skills that came in awfully handy when it came time to defend my homeland during the siege of Akwesasne in 1979-1981 and again in 1989-1991.) Oh yes, I also needed the money, and the many benefits that come from serving. Namely, a great college education, a guaranteed home loan and medical benefits that keep me out of the less than adequate Indian Health Service system. Natives join the military service for various reasons. For example, to listen to Jeff Keel, he joined because he loved America and saw that opportunity to reaffirm his love of America, so he became a flag waving American citizen. Good for him, not so good for the Tribes he represents as President of NCAI. But, that is his choice and the choice of the NCAI member tribes. Sometimes, warriors just don’t have the luxury of picking the ideal conflict. I do not identify with those dead Afghans, and not because I’ve been brainwashed by the Feds. I have seen how the Taliban treats their women, I know they have stoned victims of gang rape. Wrong is wrong and I do not care who it involves. Yes, even indigenous people can sometimes be wrong. The views I quoted and related in my Op/Ed are valid. And I stand by my Marine Corps brothers and sisters. I don’t have to like their individual politics, as they don’t have to like mine. The USMC is a proud warrior brotherhood; some day you may have the honor of experiencing what being in a warrior brotherhood means, and to know that someone always has your back.
Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 19:23