Tag Archives: Brig. Gen Paul E. Owen

Sovereignty, Trust and Resilience: National Native American Heritage Month

From Brig. Gen. Paul Owen

November is National Native American Heritage Month, honoring Native Americans and Alaska Natives, with a theme of “Sovereignty, Trust and Resilience.”  What a great theme that highlights Native Americans and their many contributions that have helped make our Army and our country great.

Within the U.S. military, Native Americans have honorably fought and served, with more than 20 in the U.S. Army alone earning the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military decoration.  Most have served quietly, with little or no recognition.  Some have served famously, and have become the stuff of legend, movies and books, such as the Navajo Code Talkers in World War II and Marine Corporal Ira Hayes, who raised one of the six flags immortalized in the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

Their military contributions continued far beyond World War II, into the Korean War, in the 1980s, 1990’s and this century, as they saw combat in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Altogether,   American Indians have earned 71 Air Medals, 51 Silver Stars, 47 Bronze Stars, 34 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 32 Medals of Honor.

Native Americans have a long and illustrious history throughout the Southwestern Division region, and their influence is still seen today.  Although they comprise a relatively small number of our workforce, they are still almost one fifth of the Native American percentage across USACE.  And they are our stakeholders, partners, and friends across our region.

The very names of the states within our Division all trace their roots back to American Indians.

  • Arkansas, from Acansa:  the name of a Quapaw Indian town and literally  means “southern or downstream place;”
  • Oklahoma, from Okla Homma:   “Red People” in the Chowtaw Indian language;
  • Texas, from tejas or taysha:  “friend” in the Caddo Indian language;
  • Missouri:  named for the  Missouri Indian tribe whose name means “town of the large canoes;”
  • And Kansas:  from the Kansa Indian tribe, literally “south” and meaning “people of the south wind.”

As November draws to its close, we will gather for our Thanksgiving holiday, that most American of all our holidays, and Native Americans will again be center stage.  The image of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony, with Pilgrims joined by the neighboring Wampanoag Indians, is forever part of our national consciousness and forms part of the great bond that we have with as Americans.

America’s Army is highly capable and we will continue to leverage the strengths of our diverse, all volunteer force, which includes more than 9,000 Native Americans in the Total Army.  Embracing and celebrating diversity makes our Army stronger, and we are dedicated to ensuring equality for all our Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members.

I encourage you to read more about Native Americans during this period of heightened awareness.  More information is available about Native Americans in the U.S. Army at https://www.army.mil/americanindians/.

Mission/People/Teamwork – Pacesetter!

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.