OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The War at Home Memorial was unveiled to the public at a dedication in Broken Arrow June 11. The first of its kind, The War at Home Memorial is a national memorial that honors veterans who took their own life due to mental illness. The memorial was partly funded by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Mission 22 Project, and the City of Broken Arrow. It featured 20 silhouette monuments, including Muscogee veteran Michael K. Coon.
The dedication opened with a flyover. Broken Arrow Mayor Debra Wimpee and Mission 22 CEO Sara Johnson gave opening remarks about the significance of the memorial.
“We cannot express how honored we are to be the final home of this breathtaking memorial,” Mayor Wimpee said. “No one knows the acute cost of war better than our Gold Star Families.”
The memorial was envisioned as a tangible way to recognize veterans who had committed suicide. According to the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, it is an issue that still disproportionately affects veterans.
“When this Memorial began as a dream of my husband Magnus in 2014, when the silhouettes behind us were still blank plates, he wanted to create a monument that brought together the community,” Johnson said. “To remember and honor those who have served our country and its people, especially those who paid the ultimate price.”
A Native Drummer and Singer performed during the Presentation of the Colors from various Native, veteran, and local emergency department honor guards. Maggie Bond sang the National Anthem.
Principal Chief David Hill was also in attendance, along with Second Chief Del Beaver and members of the MCN National Council.
“Time and time again, our Native People have answered the call to serve.” Chief Hill said. “No race of people have sent more citizens per capita into military service than Native Americans. That’s not a statistic that we brag on or one that we seek praise for. It’s simply who we are.”
After the event speakers were finished, servicepeople in the audience were recognized with an Armed Forces Salute performed by Yakama Warriors Bugler Loren Corpuz. Traditional Taps were performed to honor the fallen, followed by Amazing Grace.
The Memorial’s Steward, Michael D. Coon appeared on Mvskoke Radio to talk in-depth about his journey to bring the memorial to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
“I had doubts, in the beginning, being part of it, but then I thought to myself what a better avenue to get the message out for our veterans so someone can get out and tell their story of how these soldiers have gone through these tragic events in their life,” Michael D. Coon said.
Broken Arrow was chosen as a permanent home because it provided an environment to accommodate the size and logistics of the memorial.
“Why not have it central here in Oklahoma?” Michael D. Coon said. “This is the perfect place for it to be here in Oklahoma because being on the Muscogee Nation Reservation to have this type of national memorial to be placed here on our grounds was something honorable.”
Toward the end of the ceremonies, Michael D. Coon was presented with a Pendleton blanket by Rex Hailey of the Seminole Nation Honor Guard. The ceremonies concluded with a Memorial song.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Starting July 16, the National Lifeline will be designated a new three-digit dialing code, 988. For more information about suicide prevention visit: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
To view prior coverage on the War at Home Memorial, visit: https://www.mvskokemedia.com/muscogee-veteran-brings-national-memorial-home/.
To view the Mvskoke Radio Segment featuring Michael Coon, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIt6Ad74bZI.