Over 100 participate in Native American Thanksgiving celebration at VA Medical Center

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 29, 2015

Staff report

SALISBURY — Over 100 leaders and guests gathered on Thursday, Nov. 19 at the Hefner VA Medical Center for the annual Native American Thanksgiving celebration.

The men and women who gathered represented tribes, faiths, backgrounds and ages, from many walks of life – including dancers, singers, drummers and soldiers.

An American Indian Thanksgiving observance has been held at the VA medical center for the past 15 years, said the Rev. Fleming Otey III.

Several noteworthy citizens were honored for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. Among the honorees were the Rev. Robert “Bob” Freeman, Dot Swing, sister of Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner, Hazel Trexler-Campbell and J.C. Ritchie.

Also present was speaker, author and musician Catherine Ritch-Guess, author of “Voices of Victory,” which details the experiences of Navajo Code Talkers who served the U.S. during World War II.

In addition to dancing and drumming, Chief David Waller led the volunteer honor guard as the colors were presented.

During the program, Betty Jo Hardy unveiled the ninth Peace Pole to be erected in the area, with words of peace in different languages languages including Navajo, Cherokee, Catawba and Japanese.