Cherokee Nation Businesses recently joined forces with the Military Order of the Purple Heart to bring a new piece of art to the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center.
The latest addition to the tribally-funded center is a bronze sculpture honoring the legacy of 1st Lt. Jack C. Montgomery. Montgomery was born at Long and joined the U.S. Army from Sallisaw to fight in World War II.
"Mr. Montgomery's heroics and bravery in battle are legendary and well documented. Cherokee people are proud of him and what he achieved. I think it is only appropriate that we are partnering with the Military Order of the Purple Heart to dedicate and display this wonderful bronze art in his honor," said Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran. "His duty on behalf of other veterans is also just as important. He believed no man should be left behind--that means on the battlefield or back home. That's why veterans' issues and rights remained a lifelong priority for Mr. Montgomery."
Montgomery, who died in 2002, earned the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster. He was one of eight Native Americans and the first Cherokee Nation citizen to earn these top honors while living.
A few years following his death, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rededicated and renamed its Muskogee hospital in his honor.
"Mr. Montgomery was a true hero," said Commander Don Nichols, Chapter 641, Military Order of the Purple Heart. "His service to our nation, both in the military and in his long years of service to veterans through his work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, led to our desire to honor him with this bust presented to the Cherokee Nation."
Montgomery's service to his country spanned from college to after retirement. The war hero's distinguished military career includes great acts of valor and combat during World War II, as well as his continued support of his fellow veterans through a longtime position and volunteer efforts with the Veterans Administration.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart commissioned Cherokee, award-winning artist Troy Jackson to produce the art. Following the bronze unveiling, the piece will be housed for public viewing at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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