Lansing celebrates Veterans day with annual ceremony

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Lansing's annual veterans day service had a different tone this year.

"We thanked all veterans, of course, but we had a special emphasis on Native American, and it really enriched the whole ceremony I think," says Lansing mayor Virg Bernero.

Along with Native American veterans, the ceremony also focused on Vietnam vets.

Mayor Bernero says "the Vietnam veterans contribution were never really fully appreciated, that they were not welcomed home, and so we officially welcomed our Vietnam veterans home."

Organizers say the ceremony wasn't initially meant to be focused on Native American veterans, but it snowballed quickly:

"It rapidly developed into something much larger and much more involved," explains John Norder of the MSU Native American Institute, who helped organize the event, "because every time you do something that involves American Indians, there's always this way we do--we like to do things right," he smiles.

That includes music, prayer, and flag bearers. That gets organized by the head veteran, which was George Martin in this specific event. Martin served in Vietnam and says the event meant a lot to him, but he and the Native American veteran community aren't used to being recognized for their service.

"A lot of veterans don't think about it like that," says Martin. "They defended their country, they gave up their lives for it, they put their life on the line for it, and they don't think about being recognized or being honored for it. They just did it because they love their country, and because they love mother earth."

Native Americans in the audience like John Norder were extremely moved by the celebration.

"It really represented what makes me proud to be a Native American in this country," he says.

Others in the audience also say they enjoyed the glimpse into Native American culture.