In the few spare moments I have these days, I put together an updated version of a veterans booklet. My friend Frank Shopteese asked me to do this for their Post 410 Veterans group. This is a group of Potawatomi veterans who travel here and there and post colors at pow-wows and other such events.
I’m no war correspondent by any means, but it seems like I put together a good body of work on this subject. It evolved over time. The first article I wrote for the Topeka Capital Journal in the mid-1990s was about Maynard Potts time in the South Pacific in World War II. His story is an eye-opener, because I couldn’t imagine going through those constant bombings that he experienced. Sometimes old veterans tell their story so people will partially understand what war is like.
Later I interviewed several veterans, including my twin-brother Larry. All of those guys had a helluva time during their combat time and the years after weren’t any better. Some couldn’t bring themselves to talk about any of it and often took their combat experiences to the grave.
Frank, a U.S. Marine veteran, moved here from a place called Texas and soon become an advocate for the veteran. He works in the veterans department and hauls many veterans to their appointments in the surrounding towns. One time, we were standing around smoking and he mentioned how we needed a veterans wall to let everybody know of how many Prairie Band Potawatomi had served in the military. I was on the tribal council at the time and I said we can talk about it or do something about it, so we pushed for the wall to be built in our park. The tribal council backed the idea. It was great to see it come about. Now our veterans will be highlighted for all time on our reservation. There is enough room to add more names as needed.
Now Frank wants to have the booklet done this year and it shall be done. It covers the early years of our warrior society, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the modern day conflicts. It’ll be a keepsake for them and whoever else can talk them out of one. For me, I just wanted their story told and that is necessary.