I just unfriended a person from my friends list on Facebook. I do not know if that person will read this, but I will explain why. I have many friends on Facebook from all over the world. Not all of them have the same views and opinions as myself. Some who I consider very close friends have very different views.
But there is one thing that I will not tolerate, and that is talking bad about our young men overseas in the US military. If you want to call my fellow soldiers and marines Nazis, terrorists, thugs, or any number of hateful descriptions, then we can part ways.
Below: This is me, as a sergeant in the US Army at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, about 1990. It was where I served during Desert Shield / Desert Storm. I had an assigned task, and I served proudly.
I hope that Bay Pines Medical Center does not mind that I use their photo to make a point. This is a Native American Veteran's Day that was held a few years ago there. This is the Seminole Veteran's flag corps. Front row, left to right, is Florida Seminole Tribal members who have served proudly in the US armed forces: Steven Bowers, Charlie Billie Hires, and Clyde Tiger. Current Tribal Chairman James Billie and former Chairman Mitchell Cypress are also member of this proud group that carries the American flag at parades, tribal, and veterans functions.
The flag corps again, with other Seminole veterans. Again, that is Charlie Billie Hires on the front right carrying the rifle at port arms. I know him personally. I have been at Green Corn and Harvest Dance when he was also in attendance. For that reason, I consider him family. What is the building behind them? I will show you on the next series of photos.
Below: This photo I took of the Florida Seminole Veteran's Building on the Brighton Reservation. I consider this sacred ground. The statue in front is the famous warrior, Osceola. He died a prisoner of war fighting the United States, in Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, in January 1838.
This is a better view of the Osceola statue.
At the entrance to the Florida Seminole Veteran's Building, is a bronze emblem of the Florida Seminole Tribe’s Veterans' Corp. Notice that the left half is dress from the 1830s while fighting the United States. On the right of the emblem, he is wearing modern combat gear with a rifle, fighting for the United States. This emblem was designed by the tribal veterans themselves.
There are several bronze life-size statues around the Seminole veteran’s building of Seminoles in the military uniforms and combat gear of the past wars that they have served. Below: This is what I wore when I served in the US Army.
Inside the building is a museum that fills up two or three corridors. You can come and see it here on Brighton Reservation. I do not know the hours, and they seem to be sporadic. There are exhibits of Seminole warriors in the past and the present. In this life-sized exhibit, I am proud to say that I made the dark green long coat on this Seminole warrior mannequin. So in a way, I am also part of this museum. I will not explain it in detail here, but I consider the Seminole people as my people. We are both dwellers of Florida and I love just about everything in their culture from today back to the stone age.
And I want to finish of this snapshot I took of a painting by Tribal member Noah Billie. I think that Mr. Billie has passed away and taken the road to the campfires of the departed. I love his paintings. This is a Seminole warrior in Vietnam (possibly James Billie) and in the clouds he is guarded over by his ancestor, possibly Abiaka, also known as Sam Jones.
Folks, I now hope that you understand, that in the eyes of the Seminoles that are alive today, there is absolutely no difference between the warrior fighting the United States in the 1830s, and the Seminole Tribal member serving in the US military overseas in 2012. If you want to understand the Seminole and even do what we do with the living history and reenactments, you must immerse yourself in their culture and learn everything you can about them. There is not any pick and choose; learn everything. You cannot just take one point of history. The Seminoles do not hold time as a linear concept, but a process forever in motion. They consider themselves the same people today as they were 200 years ago, no matter the change in appearance, housing, and technology.
If you want to talk bad about our American soldiers on Facebook, then you are insulting both myself and these proud Seminole warriors. We are not Nazis or thugs. You are welcome to come down to Brighton Reservation and express your point of view in front of our face, so we can show you the error of your ways. You decide how you will learn this lesson.