CNO Veterans Day Ceremony
By Kendra Germany-Wall
December 1, 2021
On November 11, the Choctaw Nation hosted its first Veterans Day Ceremony since 2019.
This year’s in-person ceremony took place at the historic Tvshka Homma Capitol Grounds. The ceremony paid tribute to all military personnel who have served and are still serving in the United States military.
The Choctaw Nation Royalty were also in attendance, performing the Lord’s Prayer.
During this year’s program, guest speaker Col. Michael F. Hammond, Commander, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, gave a special speech to the crowd of veterans, tribal members, family, associates, Tribal Council, leadership and guests.
Another special aspect of this year’s ceremony was the induction of World War I hero Pvt. 1st Class Joseph Oklahombi into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Oklahombi’s great-great-nephew, Joe Watkins, and other family members were in attendance to accept the award.
The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation (OKMHF), sponsor of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, was founded in 1999 by Major General Douglas O. Dollar, USA (retired). OKMHF is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization having the purpose of honoring those Oklahomans, living or deceased, who serve or have served in the military with records of extraordinary service and/or sacrifice to our nation. The induction is held annually in celebration of Veterans Day.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were forced to cancel last year’s ceremony. So, to still honor Oklahombi, Capt. John Farris and Col. Kelly Zachgo were in attendance to induct Oklahombi into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
The new Chahta Tvskha flag was also unveiled during the ceremony. This flag was designed in honor of all Choctaw veterans. Seth Fairchild, Executive Director of Cultural Services, presented the Heart of the Warrior Scholarship to Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Moore.
The Heart of the Warrior scholarship helps active duty and retired U.S. armed service veterans who are seeking postsecondary higher education. The ceremony also included a 21 Gun Salute and Taps, conducted by the Choctaw Nation Honor Guard. A special drawing for Choctaw veterans was also held.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction by Councilwoman Jennifer Woods and a grab-and-go lunch provided by the Choctaw Nation.
Photos by Chris Jennings