The groundbreaking for the National Native American Veterans Memorial is finally here

Elizabeth Howe
September 18, 2019 - 8:31 am
The National Native American Veterans Memorial, Warriors' Circle of Honor.

Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho)

After more than four years, the groundbreaking for the National Native American Veterans Memorial is finally here. 

A celebration and groundbreaking hosted by the National Museum of the American Indian will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The celebration will include children's activities, a hands-on model of the memorial, a tour of the museum’s traveling exhibition “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces," and a webcast conversation between monument designer Harvey Pratt and museum director Kevin Gover.

This project has been in progress since 2015 when the design competition began. Marine Corps veteran Pratt’s work — titled  “Warriors’ Circle of Honor" — was chosen out of 413 submissions. 

Winning design for the National Native American Veterans Memorial announced

Pratt served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1965 and was stationed at Da Nang Air Base. As part of a U.S. Marine Air Rescue and Security unit and the only Native American Marine in his team, he worked on the ground protecting Marine Corps property and recovering pilots that had been shot down. 

The concept of the memorial, which engages multiple senses, features an elevated stainless steel circle that rests on a carved stone drum. It will be located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol.

"It's a matter of simplicity that's so strong not only among Native American people, but everything that we see and do is in a circle and it's a powerful object. It brings power in and it sends power out, " said Pratt, during a presentation of the final design.

The vision for the memorial embodies a place for healing and spirituality but also celebrates valor, legacy and culture. The "Warriors' Circle of Honor" will occasionally be lit with a flame at the base of the circle which encourages veterans, families and others to "come around the campfire" and tell stories of their service.

The memorial is scheduled to open in November 2020.

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