Category Archives: Special Emphasis Observances

Veterans Day Salute

By Brig. Gen. Paul E. Owen

This year, we celebrate Veterans Day on the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the battlefields of Europe fell silent after more than four years of fighting.  World War I was not “the war to end all wars,” as some had hopefully named it; instead, it was one of the deadliest wars in history.

President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the first Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, one year after the end of World War I.  The holiday was officially designated by Congress in May 1938 as a day to for United States citizens, businesses, churches, schools and government buildings to display the American flag and observe parades in honor of veterans.  In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of military in the nation’s history, Congress amended the 1938 Act by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.”

Today, less than one percent of Americans choose to serve in the all-volunteer military, and 79 percent of Soldiers come from families that have served.  Nonetheless, veterans play a vital role in helping to connect the American public with the Army and inspire the next generation to serve.  Veterans are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters.  We are all touched by the lives of a veteran.

The Southwestern Division has a robust schedule for Veterans Day 2018, with senior leaders engaged throughout the region. This year, the City of Dallas held a special event for our veterans, proclaiming, in part, “the City of Dallas honors these dedicated men and women for their spirit, determination and dedication to the principles of freedom and democracy; and we express our gratitude to those who have given so much and continue to do so.”   Thank you to the City of Dallas for the Veterans Day Proclamation.

Across SWD, all of our Pacesetters have made meaningful and much appreciated contributions to our mission, and many of you, both military and civilian, have deployed overseas to serve in harm’s way in support of USACE and our nation.  We honor the service of all.  But on Veterans Day, we highlight the great service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Thank you to our SWD veterans for all you have done and continue to do.  I ask our non-veterans to reach out and thank your veteran colleagues on this Veterans Day.

Some Things are Better Left Undisturbed

Looting or vandalizing a Native American burial ground, or digging for or removing archaeological artifacts from government property is an escalating problem, and action is being taken to stop it. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with various agencies such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Historic Preservation, and the Osage Nation to spread awareness about the issue and step up efforts to stem the escalating problem of looting.

The goal of this partnership is to not only increase the number of investigations taking place in order to deter individuals from seeking out artifacts on government lands, but to also seek out convictions to show that this is a serious issue that will not be taken lightly.

Aaron Boswell, a ranger for the Little Rock District, installs looting signage at one of the Corps’ many parks. Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to 5 years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000.

Signage is now being placed at Corps parks in order to bring exposure to the penalties one will incur if found in violation of the law. Not only will perpetrators face prison time up to five years without parole, fines can also amount to $250,000. Two Arkansan men were recently sentenced to 36 months of jail time and were each ordered to pay restitution of $2,000.

However, this is not an issue solely relegated to Arkansas. In Mississippi, six individuals were sentenced in federal court after being convicted of removing artifacts from government land. Removing or digging up archeological artifacts on federal or tribal lands is a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. In this particular case artifacts were removed from Corps of Engineers property. Each individual’s sentence varied with one having to pay restitution of more than $41,000.

Excavating for artifacts and selling them for monetary gain is not only unethical, it’s a gross violation of Native Americans’ spiritual beliefs. These artifacts are not merely objects of art, they are sacred. When asked why these items are viewed as sacred, Casandra Beaver a Navajo Indian and Little Rock District Administrative Assistant stated, “When someone is looting and digging up these artifacts they are taking away a part of our heritage. When these objects are created we are putting a spirit into them, they have a purpose, and they have meaning.”

Another reason that this situation is problematic is due to cultural resources not being renewable. When asked for an example of what this means, Little Rock District Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison Allen Wilson, responded, “There are no more Mississippian sites being created. When people destroy areas such as this, or remove artifacts, it takes away from our body of knowledge about the cultures in these regions. The resources that we have to pull from are already limited. It’s about history preservation.”