Lumbee community offers input for national veterans memorial

PEMBROKE, NC (WBTW) – Plans for a National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is underway, with input from American Indian communities across the country.

Wednesday, the Lumbee Tribe met to discuss the memorial with people from the Smithsonian Institution.

The meeting was held at the Lumbee Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club in Pembroke.  It was one of eight stops on a cross-country tour to get input from Indian communities about the memorial.

“Well I heard about it this week in fact I drove down from Charlotte this morning,” said World War II Veteran Jesse Oxendine.  I thought it was a very ideal thing and a very appropriate thing for them to give the Native Americans its recognition.”

The memorial will be on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. near the Indian museum.

“Robeson County may be small but the Lumbee Tribe is very large in Indian country.  So I knew and I couldn’t even tell you how I knew, but I knew that there were a lot of veterans here,” stated Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

“Our Lumbee service men and women have served ever since the revolutionary war until now.  This is going to be a great tribute to them and other tribes across the nation,” explained Lumbee Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates more than 150,000 veterans self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.

Wednesday’s input meeting sparked both questions about the memorial along with support.

“I think everyone is optimistic and enthused about raising money seeing this through,” mentioned Godwin.

The Smithsonian Institution plans to continue visits to different communities this year to consult about the project then start the design phase next year.

The goal is to finish the memorial by 2019.

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