Monday, July 9, 2018

A Memorial Long Time Coming

http://www.citylab.com; June 26, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog. Blogger is back, fresh from a very toasty long Fourth of July weekend.  The heat is slowly easing but it is still too warm spend any length of time outside.  Fortunately, Blogger found a cool air conditioned place to write.

Today we are going to talk about the newest memorial, dedicated to Native Americans veterans. This long overdue memorial is marked by a circle.  The circle is symbolic of life, nature, the seasons, and elements.  Kriston Capps writes in his CityLab article "Here's D.C.'s Memorial For Native American Veterans," "The circle is also the anchor for a special, and highly unique, mistake in Washington D.C.: a space for ceremonies for hundreds of different Native tribes and nations."

"The fire and water frame the symbolic infrastructure for the memorial."  The steel circular sculpture emerges from the center drum-like pedestal.  The drum also functions as a fountain, "whose waters will bless sacred ceremonies."  The fire at the base of the steel circle will be lit on Veterans Day and other holidays.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (nmai.si.edu; date accessed July 9, 2018) recently announced the winner of the international design competition to create a new monument.  The Native American Veterans Memorial (Ibid) will pay tribute to the Native American military personnel who service in every American conflict.  Harvey Pratt, the memorial's designer, told CityLab, "The memorial is meant to be active site for healing, prayer, and storytelling."  The concept is completely unique for the National Mall.

The jury chose Mr. Pratt's design--Warriors' Circle of Honor--from five finalists, out of 120 submissions.  Mr. Pratt's concept rights a complicated design brief.  Mr. Capps describes, "The memorial needed to facilitate a potent and reflective experience for veterans and their family members.  But it also needed to be legible and meaningful across many different cultures and conflicts."

Harvey Pratt, an Arapaho and Cheyenne Marine Corps veteran, told CityLab, "that he relied on a handful of symbols and conceits to build something essential and, he hopes, transportive."  Specifically,

Of the 650 tribes, we're all the same, but we're different,.... We all use those elements, but maybe all a little bit differently.

The Native American Veterans Memorial is unique in another respect because it does not highlight a specific conflict, instead it showcases an entire people.  Many people, as a matter of fact.  Mr. Capps writes, "The memorial honors all Native American veterans--including American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Natives Hawaiians--from the Revolutionary War to the present, across all braches of service."

Rebecca Trautmann, the project curator for the Native Veterans Memorial, told CityLab,

That's already quite a challenge, for any design to be meaningful to all of those group, and to honor all of them,.... It also needs needs to be a timeless memorial that will honor veterans going forward into the future.

The memorial is composed of "Concentric circles of golden Kasota limestone--the same material used to build the museum--will serve as benched for reflection and participation."  The seals of each of branches of the military will carved into each ring. Mr. Pratt's wife, Gina, and son, Nathan, worked with him on the design.  Hans E. and Torrey Butzer of Butzer Architects and Urbanism (butzerarchitects.com; date accessed July 9, 2018)--the firm that designed the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (oklahomacitynationakmemorial.com; date accessed July 5, 2018)--will collaborate with the Pratts to bring the memorial to fruition.

One of the most important features of the memorial is a group of four lances placed at cardinal points around the concentric limestone rings.  The lances will act as focal points for ceremonies: "Veterans, families, and tribal leaders may attach prayer clothes to these lances."  Harvey Pratt said "that most nations have sings that they will want to play or perform for gatherings at the memorial, from flag songs to veterans to victory songs."  Mr. Pratt told CityLab,

Most Natives will recognize those elements and will take advantage of them and use them.  They can spend some time in there, and make promises to the Creator,.... I'm going to tie a prayer cloth for my nephew my nephew, who's in Iraq, and I'll say this prayer and promise to do something for next year.  It becomes a place of power, a place of strength, a place of comfort.

Rebecca Trautmann said "that the museum hopes to break ground on the memorial in September 2019 and unveil the finished project in late 2020."  In the interim, Ms. Trautmann is preparing a book and exhibit in conjunction with the memorial's debut.  Among the artifact that will be included in the exhibit is a ceremonial drum used for a powwow held near Fallujah in 2004 (1stmlg.marines.mil; Sept. 24, 2004; date accessed July 9, 2018) as well as ceremonial jingle dresses used by active military personnel.

The Native American Veterans Memorial is more than 20 years passed due.  Congress authorized legislation creating the memorial in 1994, before the National Museum of the America. Indian was brought to life. Kriston Capps reports, "A national search for a memorial designer began in earnest in 2013, when the museum, in concert with the National Congress of American Indians [ncai.org; date accessed July 9, 2018], convened an advisory committee of about 30 Native veterans and their communities in 16 states and the District of Columbia."  Those gatherings informed the main concept of the project: "to build an inclusive and healing memorial."

Currently, over 140,000 veterans identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian; right now, more than 31,000 Native men and women are on active duty.  Mr. Capps observes, "In proportion to their population, Native Americans serve in the military at higher rates than any other ethnic population."  Blogger recall meeting a Mexican-Native American woman who served in the military. Much love and respect to her.  Beyond a few notable contributions--"...the Code Talkers, who helped send coded messages in Native languages in both world wars"--the sheer number of contributions by Natives Americans to national security had been largely ignored.

Harvey Pratt said,

Washington D.C., has sacred places all over,.... Different memorials, they're all to the American people.  I'm proud to have the National Native American Veterans Memorial, included with the rest of his sacred places,mplace where people come to be healed and be comforted.

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