The root meaning of memorial is to remember, or worth remembering.  We remember the fallen soldiers, the young men and women, our nations children who served till death.  Yet we often forget to remember all the innocents lost in all these wars and tragedies. Forgetting the real cost of war. For America should remember one thing today, that for the over 200 years we have been at war we have found little peace and little happiness.

I am a true believer that if an ending is honorable, just, and in alignment with love, then so to should the means to that end.  As a disabled veteran of the Iraqi War and War on Terror I have seen nothing good come from any of my service.  Iraq is no better off, in fact both Iraq and America are both worse off sense this whole war on “terror” started.

I have spent many recent years studying non-violence, God, self, and society. I traveled to La Borie Noble in the southern mountains of France. This community was founded by Lanza Del Vasto who was named Shantidas (Servant of Peace) by Gandhi Ji. He studied under Gandhi because he wanted to learn how to be a better Christian.  Lanza Del Vasto was not just a well known writer but a well known activist.  Just like our native warriors of peace fighting the pipeline with non-violence in North Dakota. Lanza Del Vasto once protested the Nuclear Bomb and helped bring change for Conscientious Objectors who would be imprisoned for not serving in military occupations.

Lanza Del Vasto in India
Lanza Del Vasto in India

Our country has a tendency to just remember the soldiers but so many others have dedicated their lives to love, truth, and justice.  They did this with out guns, with out parades, and with out recognition.  Yes Gandhi was a famous man and recognized all over the world, but it was not his goal.  His goal was to free the Indians, his people from British rule. Just to as we must bring peace, compassion, and love back to our nations indigenous tribes, the Native Americans who have been persecuted non stop sense the founding of America.

If anyone has never visited a reservation you cannot know what I am speaking of when I say that Native Americans are still under persecution.  Last summer I spent three months living with two families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  Pine Ridge is famous for the massacre site of Wounded Knee. On December 29th the year 1890 a regiment of U.S. Soldiers led by James W. Forsythe, surrounded the Lakota who where led to their slaughter.  Just before the massacre could take place the U.S. soldiers disarmed all the men of the Lakota tribe at wounded knee.

In The Shadow of Wounded Knee
Pine Ridge Reservation

Pine Ridge Reservation is the worst reservation based off of living standards, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, and drug use.  The level of poverty I witnessed on Pine Ridge was sickening and saddening.  To see the desolation of a beautiful colorful people led me to ask questions about my own education and upbringing.  I grew up poor and eating out of garbage cans but it still wasn’t this bad.  The government hospitals treat all Native Americans with the same pill distributed to all veterans of war from some of the VA hospitals.  This pill has a common side effect of suicidal thoughts.  Suicide is just as bad on the reservations as it is for veterans returning from war.

The first Lakota I ever spoke to on the Reservation told me to turn around and go home.  That nothing has changed on the reservation in 300 years and nothing was going to change it.  He told me there was no hope for him or his people and that I was just wasting my time.  I’m not gonna lie after 3 months of working with my brother Lee and his family I soon started to give up hope.  Running out of money and patience I left for a year to save up money and find a better way to help.

That is why on this day I ask for every American, every Veteran, and Every Native to stand up in unity.  Let us remember those who have been massacred by U.S. Soldiers for the last 300 years.  Let us remember the fallen by honoring their sacrifice.  We honor their sacrifice by standing with the Native Americans now, giving them back their lives, their love, their land, their culture.  Let us quit pretending that everything is good for everyone.

Our education system blindly led many of us to believe that the Native Americans where well taken care of by our government.  We believed they all had casinos and money for all their needs.  Yet it is not like that for the Lakota of Pine Ridge.  It isn’t like that for the Navajo in New Mexico, or the Hopi in Arizona. We can enjoy our families on this weekend, but many on the reservations will go with out food, water, and electricity. Not to forget those who are not with family this weekend but are on the North Dakota Reservations, stopping a pipeline from destroying our nations water supply.

Let us not be afraid to tell those who claim authority over us that we had enough, and we will take no more.  We will stand up in unity and through the power of Non-violence end the corruption.  Gandhi has proven it can work and so we shall take his advice and “become the change we wish to see.”

Have a blessed Labor Day Weekend!  God Speed, God Bless.  May you live long and prosper.  The force is with you.