Manataka American Indian Council

 

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Native American Medal of Honor Monument

 

It all began on New Year's Day 2006, when Reverend Bill Silaghi and his wife Teresa looked to purchase a 40-acre tract of land on Crocket Road, in Geneva County, Alabama.

 

Teresa sat on the ground and, with palms down, patted the earth. "It felt like home," she said.  She felt the  "land was saved for us."

 

"We came here with an idea," said Bill. "We want to give back to our people." Bill is descended from the Miami Indian tribe and Teresa is of Cherokee descent.
 

Immediately they began to plan the first Falling Leaves Gathering and Powwow scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 10-13, 2008. 

 

During this time, the Silaghi's became aware of the American Indian Act of 1994 that called for the construction of a National Native American Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.  The National Congress of American Indians was given the responsibility for acceptance of contributions and payment of the expenses of, the establishment of the memorial because no federal funds could be used to pay any expense of the establishment of the memorial.

 

"But after 14 years, nothing had been done to create this memorial.  Our veterans deserve to be recognized and honored so we took it upon ourselves to donate our land for this purpose," said Bill Silaghi.   

 

On October 11, 2008, about six hundred people including dignitaries from area Cherokee, Creek and Intertribal Warrior Societies attended a dedication ceremony for the new Native American Congressional Medal of Honor memorial.  Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, sent Ms. Karen Cooper, as a representative. The surrounding community was supportive and many donated food for area veteran and active duty families. The community also donated new toys that were distributed to needy children by the Echota Cherokee of Florida. 

 

The Congressional Medal of Honor Monument is the first of three, and possibly four phases of development. In the next two phases the grounds will feature at least six veteran memorial monuments surrounding a museum.  Another portion of the property is planned for a Native American veteran cemetery.  Log cabins and other features of a typical American Indian village is also planned.

 

 

 

 

Native American Recipients of the

Congressional Medal of Honor

 

"Alone and far removed from

Earthly care the noble ruins of

Men remembered here.

You are good men, strong men

Endowed with youth and

Much the will to live.

I hear no protest from the

Mute lips of the dead.

They rest there is

No more to give.

So long my comrades,

Sleep ye where you fell

Upon the field

But read softly please

 

March o'er my heart

With ease

March on and on

But to the Creator

Alone we pray."

The Native American Congressional Medal of Honor Monument was designed by Bill and Teresa Silaghi and constructed by Lolley Monument with private donations. It is the only monument for American Indian Medal of Honor recipients in the country.

 

 

Colonel Van Thomas Barfoot,

US Army-retired (Choctaw)

Lieutenant Michael E Thornton, US Navy-retired (Cherokee)

The Medal of Honor was established by Congress in 1862 and has been awarded to 3,448 heroes to date.  Almost half are Civil War soldiers. Since the beginning of World War II, only 850 Medals of Honor have been awarded.   Over half that number died in their moment of heroism.  There are no surviving World War I Medal of Honor recipients today. Only 328 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from World War II to date survived to wear the Medal in civilian life.  Today, there are only 100 living recipients.   There are only two surviving American Indian Medal of Honor recipients;  Colonel Van Thomas Barfoot, US Army-retired (Choctaw) and Lieutenant Michael E Thornton, US Navy-retired (Cherokee).

 

"Our nation needs real heroes, role models for us to admire and emulate.  The men who have received our Nation's highest award for heroism certainly meet the criteria.  In an age that worships sports heroes, movie stars, and the rich and famous, Medal of Honor recipients stand out.  Their claim to the title "hero" comes not from athletic prowess, a celebrity fan club, or financial success.  These men attained their title for caring enough about their nation and their comrades in arms, to risk and often sacrifice their life that others might live.  That quality of character defines a real hero," said, Bill Silaghi.

 

There are 100 of Medal of Honor recipients alive today, two are American Indian, and most are over the age of 75. Sadly we are loosing them far too quickly.  It is important that we move swiftly to share their part of our heritage with our youth before it is too late. 

 

The Silaghi family can be reached at billsilvereagle@aol.com  486 Crocket Road, Samson, Alabama 36477  (334) 360-1106

 

 


 

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