By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
On the morning of Monday November 11, the Tulalip community gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) longhouse to thank the brave heroes who put their lives on the line to defend this Nation’s freedom. Service men and women filled the stands of the longhouse to pay their respects as well as share their active-duty experience.
During roll call, the veterans stated their name, military branch and years of service, among intriguing deployment stories. Family members of fallen soldiers spoke their name, recognizing them for their dedication to protecting this country. The HCC presented each veteran in attendance a gift bag, filled with items from their shop, as a sign of respect and gratitude. Since opening in 2011, the cultural center has made it a point of emphasis to pay tribute to the vets and ensure they are honored properly each November.
“It’s always a big honor to celebrate our veterans,” expressed Mytyl Hernandez, HCC Marketing and PR. “The veterans are a big part of the community and have been a huge part of our exhibits and museum. Being able to have an event for them is very special.”
Becoming an annual tradition, the ladies of the Veteran Quilting Project returned with several beautiful quilts made specifically with a tribal veteran in mind. Now in its fourth year, the Veteran Quilting Project is comprised of seven tribal quilters who produced nearly thirty red, white and blue star quilts for the eldest Tulalip veterans since 2016.
“I made mine for Walt Campbell,” said Quilter Verna Hill. “This is my first year joining the ladies and what an honor it is. With each and every cut, you think about what those veterans done for this country. To sit down and sew for them is so rewarding. And to be here today and wrap him with that quilt was amazing. His response to me was ‘this is better than any medal I’ve ever received’. That was very powerful. I’m thankful to be a part of this group and I can’t wait to continue wrapping our veterans in love.”
As the veterans accepted their quilts, Tulalip Artist Melissa Bumgarner surprised the veterans with a gift of her own.
“I made some beaded medallions,” she said. “At the center of each medallion is a plaque of the branch they served in; the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines. I did it because I want to say thank you for what they did. It felt good to present that to them and show them appreciation.”
The HCC’s Veterans Day observance ended with three workshops geared toward the Indigenous veteran community; a soapstone carving demonstration with Choctaw Air Force Veteran Sam Sitt, an Ozette Archeological Recovery Experience with Tulalip Army Veteran John Campbell, and the Veterans Healing Forum with Rev. Bill Eaglehart Topash, Tulalip Marine Veteran.
“Veterans Day is a good time to remember those from the past,” expressed John McCoy, Tulalip Air Force Veteran. “Today was especially tough because we lost two of our World War II vets, Stan Jones and Moxie Renecker, this year. That was a special moment for me today, remembering those two great men.”