Veterans' Pow Wow Honors Purple Heart Recipients

By KBJR News 1

July 14, 2012 Updated Jul 14, 2012 at 9:39 PM CST

Sawyer, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---It's an event unlike any other in our region and one that holds great meaning not just for veterans, but to natives as well.

The 19th annual Fond Du Lac Veteran's Pow Wow is underway and Saturday's celebration included something extra special.

The excitement from more than 1,000 community members echoed on the Mash Ka Wisen Pow Wow grounds.

"It's a day that we honor all of our veterans. You take a look at the community at large, how much they've showed up for the powwow here and how much they support our veterans," Chuck Smith, Fond du Lac Veterans' Service, said.

This year marks the 19th annual Fond du Lac Veterans' Pow Wow and this year they added an event.

"We've got a separate ceremony for the Purple Heart recipients living and deceased. They've signed up over there and the family members signed up the deceased Purple Heart recipients and we're going to honor them with a gift and a song and with some words," Chuck Smith, Fond Du Lac Veterans' Service, said.

"We consider it an absolute honor," Brad Bennett, a Purple Heart recipient, said.

The Purple Heart is awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the United States military. Bennett earned two.

"They've asked me to say a few words on what the Purple Heart is, how you receive it, what the award is all about, and then they've asked each of our members to sign up and they are going to individually have them come out and receive some token of honor," Brad Bennett, a Purple Heart recipient, said.

Pride was in the eyes and faces of those being honored.

"If all of society would just thank their veterans, like the Native Americans do, it would be fantastic," Brad Bennett, a Purple Heart recipient, said.

And the best part of the celebration?

"The best part is when they dance, cause they love dancing. And he loves the drum. They get out there and they get so excited," Malita Kletschka-Spears, a community member, said.

"The Grand Entry," Chuck Smith, Fond Du Lac Veterans' Service, said.

Eleven Native American communities in the state were represented during Saturday's Pow Wow.

Written and posted by: Justin Reis NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com