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Cherokee Warriors Memorial turns 5 years old
The Cherokee Warriors Memorial, located at the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Okla., was built five years ago to honor and preserve the heritage of Cherokees who served and are serving in all United States military branches. When it was built it only had 450 engraved bricks. Today, it has 1,958.
TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
By TESINA JACKSON
Fri, Nov 12, 2010
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Warriors Memorial was built five years ago to honor and preserve the heritage of Cherokees who served and are serving in the United States military branches. Today, it still stands, but with improvements.
Norma Merriman, group leader of the tribe’s Human Services, said the idea for the memorial, which sits adjacent to the Cherokee Nation Complex, stemmed from the tribe’s Office of Veterans Affairs and other CN-employed veterans.
Dedicated on Nov. 10, 2005, the granite memorial is 100 feet across with a 50-foot CN seal in the center. Former CN draftsman Marianne Bizian designed the memorial, while Creative Edge in Fairfield, Iowa, placed the granite centerpiece and seal.
On the sides of the memorial sit two .105MM-caliber guns. A black granite monument near the memorial’s entrance reads in Cherokee and English: “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.”
Donated benches, costing about $1,000 each, were set in November 2007. They encircle the seal, while 10 flagpoles stand near the entrance.
“Those benches have been provided by the families of the combat veterans or by the Office of Veteran’s Affairs from the memorial fund,” Merriman said. “We usually pay for it if it’s someone from the Cherokee Nation who are recipients of the highest honors that they can receive, like medal of honor. They are there for our warriors with highly decorated honors.”
Three taller flagpoles display the Prisoner of War/Missing In Action, CN and American flags.
The other seven flagpoles are reserved for each of the tribal clans so that families can fly a flag on their clan’s pole as a tribute to their veteran family members. Lights surround the flagpoles and the memorial so it can be seen at night.
The cost of the memorial was more than $100,000. The CN donated more than $50,000, while the rest of the money came from the sales of engraved bricks and donations. Bricks are used as walkways around the memorial and are sold by the OVA.
“Over time it’s cost about $100,000 because it’s one of those things. It’s perpetual. It’s continually evolving, but probably $100,000 has gone into it at this point and that was from a mixture of funds coming from the sales of our bricks, from the tribe and individual contributions,” Merriman said.
If a brick happens to break or fades, CN Human Services replaces it. As of Nov. 10, there were 1,958 engraved bricks at the memorial. At the 2005 dedication there were only 450 bricks.
“We had done some of the bricks down at the courthouse and other people had seen that, so it was decided that it would be a good way to honor their warriors,” Merriman said. “You can buy a brick for any warrior or people who participated in the war effort. If a person had someone who wasn’t involved in the actual war, but worked toward the war effort they could buy a brick for those people.”
The bricks display the service person’s name, rank or branch of service or whatever the family prefers. They are $25, of which $10 goes toward engraving costs and the rest goes to the memorial fund to help with upkeep and any other costs.
With each engraved brick purchased, a blank brick is removed and replaced with the newly engraved one.
“So if you go out there, you’re going to see that there are still a lot of blank bricks out there but that’s for the future. Once the circle gets all filled we anticipate making walkways with brick. We think we’ll have places for warriors for a long, long time,” Merriman said.