On Saturday, October 22, Winam Tamásclitkyaw—come to Tamástslikt. As Bobbie Conner has said, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute is here for all of us to acknowledge the contributions of veterans. It’s not meant for veterans to honor veterans.
At 10:00 am Saturday, the Yakama Nation Warriors will post colors. Our own Leila Spencer will sing the national anthem and ‘Amazing Grace.’ There will be a number of people on hand to lay wreaths at the memorial for all the different eras and US military conflicts, including Anne Stump, Gold Star Mother. There will be keynote speeches by Oregon Army National Guard officers. Then at 1:00 pm there will be a “Modern Warriors” reception inside Tamástslikt, and all veterans and their loved ones are invited.
At 5pm Saturday, George St. Dennis American Legion Post 140 will lead an “Honor Walk” one mile north downhill to the Tribes’ veterans memorial in the July grounds. They will hold a candlelight vigil there. Then at 6:30pm, a tribal shuttle bus will pick everyone up to return to Tamástslikt. At 7pm at Tamástslikt, there will be a ‘Wall-Touching Ceremony’ at the Vietnam memorial in which all participants are invited to touch a name on the wall.
One of our Board of Trustees officers asked Tamástslikt for special acknowledgement of Vietnam veterans, commenting, “[Vietnam] was a very sad time during the nation’s history and anti-Vietnam war demonstrators were in full force. There were killings on many of the nation’s campuses by the National Guard. Only desegregation caused such a tumultuous time in our nation’s history during my lifetime. I realize that this is a time for healing but I think that recognition of our tribal members who fought in the Vietnam War is a part of the healing process. The returning veterans today receive well-deserve accolades but the Vietnam veterans were treated as outcasts when they returned ‘home’.”
Leon Sheoships, Vietnam vet, despises the glorification of war. He saw it up close and very personally in Vietnam. He is one of the tribal veterans who is profiled in the current Tamástslikt exhibit, Honoring Our Veterans. Sheoships was a Marine and one of the few survivors of his squadron. The book Payback by Joe Klein describes in horrific detail the firefight that put Sheoships out of commission and wiped out his squad. Yet when his tour of duty in Vietnam ended, his whole being recoiled against leaving his unit while action was still going on. In the 1980’s one of his buddies went berserk when the prisoners released from Teheran were given heroes’ welcomes, and it drew the interest of Joe Klein, who has written other nonfiction books such as ‘Primary Colors’.