Yokota celebrates NAIHM
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The United States military is made up of a multitude of religions, nationalities, races, cultures and gender preferences. One of the ways the U.S. raises awareness about the differences within the nation is by designating months to celebrate the countries diversity.
The month of November is designated by congress and the president as a time to reflect on the rich traditions and accomplishments, as well as the suffering and injustices that mark the history of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“This month is a time to emphasize learning and awareness about National American Indian Heritage from past and most importantly, the present,” said Master Sgt. Edward M. Silversmith, 374th Maintenance Squadron flight chief. “I have shared my culture and how it makes us appreciative of nature and the things around us whether it’s good or bad.”
The theme for 2016 is ‘Serving our Nations’, and was chosen by the Society of American Indian Government Employees.
Yokota’s NAIHM committee held more than 20 reading sessions at the elementary schools, produced posters and flyers to inform base personnel about the heritage month and gave an interview with the American Forces Network.
“I have brought several Native American artifacts I have obtained over the years and share my experiences at the briefings and book readings to help the children better learn about this aspect of history,” Silversmith said.
According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, the US military currently has over 15,000 American Indian and Alaska Natives serving the country, and over 380,000 veterans.
Starting in World War I and World War II, the U.S. military employed a number of American Indian servicemen to use their tribal language as military code that could not be broken by the enemy. These ‘code talkers’ came from many different tribes including Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Crow, Comanche, Hopi, Navajo, Seminole and Sioux.
“Being Native American and serving in the military means a lot to me because not only am I serving my country, I am serving my tribe, the people I come from and I am respecting the many Native Americans who served before me,” Silversmith said.