Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In the last post, I wrote about my friend Martin Jim, Jr. He died in Vietnam in 1971. Earlier in that war, his cousin Victor Hale had also died. Later research showed Floyd Nevins also died in Vietnam, May 15, 1969. In World War I, Leonard Tapsee died in Europe during the year of 1918. Later in World War II, Lavernne “Sas-Weh” Thomas, Paul”Wah-mego” Wamego, and William Lasley died during hostile action. During the Korean War, Vernon Mzhickteno died in the Korean Conflict. They, along with many other men during these wars, will never know long life because they chose to defend all the freedoms we enjoy today.
After their service to the country, there was more in store for the returning veteran. Now, they had to live with what they saw and felt for the last few years. Some turned to drinking or drugs to forget their war-time experiences, while others went on living life the best way they could under the circumstances. But, one thing for sure, life was never the same for these Potawatomi men. The Potawatomi soldier returned to the close knit environment of the reservation with a vastly different outlook on life. Don Lovell said “There is a quote that I once heard. I don't know the author. However, it says "For those who have fought for it, Freedom has a taste the protected will never know".”
In the past few years as the veterans have aged, many have died. On November 26, 2003, the tribe dedicated a memorial wall and was called “an expression of the Nation’s everlasting tribute to veterans – past and present.” Now they received some recognition for their accomplishments. Potawatomi society and the country have benefited from the contributions made by all of these soldiers. Yes it is true, by and large, that most have received little recognition for their contributions, but inside they know what they accomplished and that’s all that really matters