More than 100 bricks honoring Cherokee veterans were recently added to the Cherokee Nation's Cherokee Warrior Memorial. The memorial is next to the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah. About 2,000 bricks at the memorial already have veterans' names etched into them to commemorate the military service of current and past Cherokee service members.
Sisters Barbara Maddox, center, above, and Brenda Newton, right, of Sallisaw recently bought 52 bricks that were laid in late August to honor their veteran family members. They have traced veteran ancestors back 160 years, including Cherokee citizen John Taylor, a scout for the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
"Our family has a great number of veterans with many courageous stories. They're patriotic, they've always been willing to respond to the call of duty, and they don't flinch at hard work or doing what needs to be done," Maddox said. Their family had 22 Army veterans, 11 Air Force, 16 Navy, five Marine Corps and one National Guard member serving in conflicts spanning from World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other notable people with bricks at the memorial include Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War and Army veteran Jack C. Montgomery, the most highly decorated Cherokee military officer. The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee is named in his honor. Cherokee Nation Warrior Memorial bricks cost $25 each. Proceeds are used for upkeep or repairs to the memorial, and for other programs held at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center.
"The bricks in the courtyard allow family members the opportunity to honor specific individual veterans, and those names are a permanent fixture at the Cherokee Nation. We're proud of each and every one of them," said Ricky Robinson, manager of the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center. The bricks lay under a granite wall with an inscription, written in both Cherokee and English, which reads, "A grateful Cherokee Nation dedicates this memorial to all Cherokee men and women, both living and dead, who have defended their families, their people and their homeland."
Newton said, while watching her family bricks being placed in the memorial site, "It's a blessing and an honor to see the Taylor family veterans' bricks grouped together at this memorial. Our veterans have been highly decorated, and now they've taken their place among other great Cherokee veterans."
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