Sad Meaning of Veterans Day Essay

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The art piece that I have chosen created by Harvey Pratt is a work of art that is currently in progress. When it is finished it is truly going to be a beautiful work of art to honor those who fought in battle. I chose Warriors’ Circle of Honor, a memorial that honors the Native Americans who have fought in the U.S. Military because I felt that this work of art was extremely special. Even though it has not yet been created, the visual layout of what he presented to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian National Native American Veterans Memorial is a stunning work of art. It truly touched my heart when I watched Harvey Pratt give his speech about this sculpture and the significance of why it was so important and what it meant to him and will mean to all the tribes it is meant to bring together for a common purpose.

The emotions that he expressed while talking about his life and the life of Native Warriors and how they were honored were very moving. When he talked about how he saw the difference in the way other soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated in comparison to how his tribe treated him and other members of his community returning from war, I felt mixed emotions of happy and sad. I was impressed by the stories he told about the honors they gave to returning vets and sad that we couldn’t do the same for all the returning vets who fought in Vietnam or any of the other wars that the United States has been involved in. Learning about all the different aspects of this memorial and what each part means gave me a better understanding of how Native American tribes/communities have such great respect for their warriors.

Washington wanted to create a memorial that honored the contributions of all the tribes who have ever fought in wars for the U.S. Military. This project started in 1994 when Congress passed legislation asking for a memorial to be built to honor the Native American troops who served in the U.S. Military, noting that Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians have a “long, proud, and distinguished tradition of service” in the U.S. Armed Forces, “in numbers which far exceed their representation in the population of the United States.” (congress 1994). However, as typical with the U.S. government, they neglected to set aside money for the project putting it at a standstill for nearly a decade. In 2013 that finally changed, and they clarified the bill allowing the go-ahead for funds to start being raised so the project could finally begin. There are 565 native tribes in the United States, and they wanted a memorial that would honor and represent all Native American tribes (Philip Athey).

The Circle of Honor will be built on the grounds of the National Mall in Washington D.C. Out of more than 120 artists who submitted designs to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, on June 26th, 2018 NMAI jury announced Harvey Pratts's design was unanimously chosen as the one they would use. (Cecily Hilleary)

This work of art incorporates elements that are sacred to all Native American tribes. Pratt wanted to go with a theme of circles since circles represent the circle of life and of the seasons that are connected and continuous. The Outer Circle has Military Medallions to honor the different branches of the military. There are four sections to the outer circle. On top of each section, there are footprints in different colors, each color represents a special meaning to Native Americans. It starts with the White footprints which symbolize a new beginning. The next is the Red footprints which represent the power of the creator. Then there are the Yellow footprints which stand for Mother Earth. Finally, there are the Black footprints with represent history, the history of ancestors and the tribes and the lives they led, then we move again to the white in a continuous circle like how life and death are.

Going around the outside of the circle is a red brick path which is the Red Road which is known as the right path of life. This is a newer concept to Native American culture that he added, it is an English-language concept of the right path of life, that is inspired by some of the beliefs found in a variety of Native American spiritual teachings. (Pritchard). He talked about how being on this Red Road you can be who you are, the war mother, the family member, the friend, anyone that you need to be to allow you to heal, dance, and celebrate life (Pratt).

The inside of the outer circle has benches for people to sit and meditate and reflect on life and loved ones. A place to find peace and healing.

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The inner circle is harmony where we all come together. He talks about the family and where we become one again. The center circle has sacred water flowing. Water is what makes things grow, and makes things start anew. In the center of the water is a drum with lava rocks inside and a flame burning which is known as the eternal flame, the sacred fire that will burn within. He talked about how all tribes have sacred fires and the importance of them. Standing upright is the giant sacred circle. This represents heaven and earth and the path for honor-bound Native people. This is the circle the Wind Spirits can pass through.

On the outside circle, there are four lances and on each of these lances, there are rings where people can come and tie prayer clothes. This is so every time the wind blows the cloth a prayer is sent out for fellow veterans. (Pratt)

The design of this memorial brings together Native American tribes with common themes, symbols, and elements that native people across America held sacred. He worked very hard to make a work of art that would be inclusive of all tribes with key elements such as water, earth, fire, and wind. The drums and the cardinal points along with the circles create a special space for the remembrance of fallen soldiers and a place to reflect and heal. Groundbreaking for this memorial is set for September 21, 2019, and is expected to open on Veterans Day, 2020.

Harvey Pratt talked about what inspired him to create this memorial the role of the Native American veterans and how he had wanted to become a veteran one day. He explained how he was raised to believe that being a warrior was a great honor. He watched growing up how veterans from other cultures came home damaged and spirit broken, but members of the American Indian tribes came home and adjusted much better because of the way that they were valued by their communities. I learned that when veterans came home from war, they would have dances and a giveaway, which is where they would have big celebrations with family and friends, and they would give a song to honor the returning warrior. The returning veteran was treated with great respect and honor for the sacrifice he made. They let him know what he did was special and how valued he was in the community.

This inspired Pratt to join the military when he grew up. He joined the Marine Corps and served in the Vietnam War, in the 3rd Reconnaissance Charlie Company, and in the I Corps. He rescued downed pilots in the war zone. When he made it back home, they celebrated him and had a giveaway where he was honored like he had seen done for those before him.

Reading about all the contributions that this artist, Harvey Pratt, has made to the world throughout his life is incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever read about an artist that I have come to have this much respect for. Harvey Phillip Pratt is a Native American artist born in 1941. He is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. This artist has made an incredible impression on me with all that he has done in his life, incorporating his art into his career to help others and bring healing to many people in more ways than one can imagine.

Upon returning home from serving in Vietnam, he joined law enforcement in 1965 and then joined the OSBI (Oklahoma FBI) in 1972 where he used his artistic skills in forensics to help solve cases. The list of cases solved because of him is incredible. He has used his incredible talents to do forensic art to help in law enforcement cases. He has made thousands of drawings and hundreds of soft tissue postmortem reconstruction sculptures to give faces to victims to help with unsolved cases. Because of his 40 years in law enforcement, he has helped solve many big and small profile cases. He has helped with the identification of human remains to help give closure to families and has helped with thousands of arrests from his composite drawings of criminals from witness descriptions. He retired in 1992 as Assistant Director and continues to help whenever asked by law enforcement. During his career he was also asked by the Cheyenne Chiefs, also known as the Council of Forty-Four, to join the Chiefs council as Cheyenne Peace Chief which he accepted.

Harvey Pratt, a self-taught artist, works with many different materials. He’s a sculptor, and a painter with acrylics, oil, and watercolors. He also does bronze work, wood carvings, and architecture. He is a very talented and impressive man who has contributed so much to the good of this country and his people. An Artist who is deserving of the honor he has been given.

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Sad Meaning of Veterans Day Essay. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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