All For You


I’ll do my part
With honor in my heart
Protect you from all harm
The sacrifice is not too large

I’m no stranger
To hard work and danger
I’ve been to parts unknown
Anything to protect my home

All for you
All for you
All for you

Uncles, Aunts, Mothers, Dads victorious
They gave their lives for ours as warriors

Never knew your story
And all you did for me
Through your fear you were strong
Listen to my honor song

I’m free, thank you
I can sing what I want to
You made a difference in my life
I’m grateful for your sacrifice


Written by Arigon Starr
©2002 Starrwatcher Publishing (ASCAP)
Lyrics reprinted by Kind Permission

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Arigon’s Aunt Susie Alford asked her to write a song for Native veterans.

She was initially reluctant to do this, because Arigon didn’t really understand the experience. “After lots of research, which included talking one-on-one with vets, I finally ‘got it.’ I gained a lot of respect for the sacrifices all Native people have made for this country,” confessed Arigon.

Still wondering why Native people serve in the military — read John D. Berry’s insightful article.

Regarding: Why Indians Will Fight This Evil – Just “One” Opinion

By John D. Berry, NAS Librarian, UC Berkeley Past President of the American Indian Library Association, ALA Councilor at Large

October 2001

Susan Shown Harjo, wrote in Indian Country Today, on September 19, 2001 that “It was the week of 9-11, the day it rained fingers and teeth. A time when millions breathed ashes of the thousands.”

Shortly after her article was published, I was asked why I was supportive of a military response. So, here is my personal take on that issue. Not that peace is not desirable, but that goal is only one of the reasons, that we should all be supportive of the U.S. Military. The horror of that day and our own history, tears, fears and yes, anger are, all factors in this reply.

Our Indian Veterans are among the most highly respected individuals within our tribes and communities. The degree to which we honor them is seldom more apparent, than at the Powwows. In Grand Entry, the Veterans are asked to carry the flag(s), and the Eagle Staff, and they are the first to enter the circle.

The history of Indian commitment and contributions to and within the United States Military services, indeed in government service, often amazes others.

While many may find the numbers that are serving and that have served a surprise, considering the conflict ridden historical relationship of Indian people as members of sovereign nations within the U.S. They should not be surprised.

Indians are not only defending America as it is, but America as it was, and perhaps as we hope it will be. Indian Nations have signed treaties with the United States, some of this is an obligation of any U.S. Citizen as well. While the U.S. has broken it’s word to us – Indian Nations and people honor their word. To do any less would make us oath breakers, and that we will not do or become.

Indians have served in the United States military since the American Revolution, they saved Washington’s army at Valley Forge from starvation, among other efforts.

During the civil War, there were several Confederate units and Union units, primarily made up of Indians, from the Oklahoma tribes alone. Two of the Indian military leaders at that time were: Ely S. Parker and Stand Watie. Ely S. Parker, (Seneca) from New York, was the military assistant to General Ulysses S. Grant. Stand Watie, Cherokee, was the last Confederate Brigadier General to surrender to the Union.

In World War I, many Indians enlisted in Canada, before the United States even entered that war. Over 6,000 of the more than 8,000 who served from Canada, during that war volunteered. It was that effort in Canada and thousands more volunteers within the United States that persuaded the U.S. Congress to give Indian Veterans the vote in 1919 and later to pass the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924. Prior to this, Indians were not even considered citizens of our own country.

During World War II, over 25,000 Indian men and women fought on all fronts and received approximately 70 Air Medals, 45 Bronze Stars, 30 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 50 Silver Stars, and two Congressional Medals of Honor. These counts may actually be low.

In the Viet Nam War, more than 41,000 Indians enlisted to serve in the United States Armed Forces. Of those, approximately 90% were volunteers, giving Indian people the highest percentage of those serving, in relation to their population numbers, out of all of the ethnic groups in this country.

In 1990, prior to Operation Desert Storm, approximately 24,000 Indian men and women were in military service. Approximately 3,000 of these men and women served in the Persian Gulf.

One out of every four Indian males is a Veteran and tens of thousands more men and women have served and are serving within the Civilian cadre of U.S. Government employees.

Indians have gone into the military for a variety of reasons: to uphold our warrior traditions or for economic, educational, and personal reasons. Sometimes, because of the draft, as in the past or a combination of all of these factors, have been reasons given for serving.

Among those who were or are ineligible to enlist, either because of age, health, or language skills, hundreds of thousands have served or are serving here at home in civilian jobs, in factories, withing the government, or on military bases. We have served in all capacities, and given hundreds of thousands of dollars towards war efforts from a population where the averge earnings are often less than 5 figures.

In the latest crises along, since September 11, 2001, Indian Tribes and peoples, have raised and/or contributed more than $2 million dollars to date, it is now October 1, 2001.

This is Indian land, as well as American land that we fight for, our own cultures and history, as well as the dominant cultures that we serve and fight for. It is our families, friends, relations, tribes and nations, that we serve and fight for.

For you see, I believe that some things are greater than the individual. There are beliefs worth fighting for and worth dying for if need be.