Veterans come from every walk of life and work in nearly every profession imaginable.
Yet it's often a surprise to many that people they work with every day are veterans – whether they served in peacetime or at war, domestically or abroad.
On Tuesday, Metro recognized veterans on its staff with a Native American honoring ceremony in the lobby of the Oregon Convention Center. A Native American drum group from Warm Springs offered songs to bring in the Northwest Indian Veterans Association color guard, which led about 15 of Metro's veterans down the great hall to be recognized before Metro councilors and staff.
The ceremony – commemorating both Native American Heritage Month and Veterans Day – honored veterans including Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen, finance director Tim Collier, Oregon Zoo staffer Tom Rogers, hazardous waste technician Matt Holden and Oregon Convention Center operations manager Darryl Jones, among others.
Property and environmental services director Paul Slyman, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and the father of an Air Force cadet, remarked on the significance of service.
“Service to our country runs in families,” Slyman said. “And it runs in communities. And we’re fortunate to be part of a very, very special community here.”
In a Nov. 2 message to Metro staff, chief operating officer Martha Bennett explained the connection between Native American Heritage Month and Veterans Day.
Native Americans have the highest per-capita participation in the U.S. military, she wrote, and honoring veterans is an important part of modern Native American culture – indeed, such recognition is included in every powwow.
"In the Native American community, warriors are honored by their family and their Tribe both before going into service and upon their return," Bennett wrote. "United States military service provides an outlet for Native Americans to fulfill a cultural purpose rooted in tradition – to fight and defend their homeland."
Metro councilors and staff will also participate in the Ross Hollywood Veterans Day parade at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday in Northeast Portland's Hollywood neighborhood.