Monday, January 19, 2009

Billy Mills on Today's Day of Service

"Ask not what your country can do for you..."

These words of John F. Kennedy are being acted out by many Americans today, including Mr. Obama. But I was quite moved by this op-ed piece about the day of service by Billy Mills, the Lakota man who ran all the way to Olympic history. I was thrilled when, earlier this fall, he officially endorsed Barack Obama, lending his highly respected Native name to a long list of supporters.

His words are simple, but passionate. It is a call to arms for Native people, but not to war - to serve others. He speaks of the trouble Indian Country is in, the historical truths and the present realities. He also tells us ways out of this:

As we observe this day of service in Indian country, I cannot help but think of the old Lakota saying, “We are all related.” As American Indians, we should join Americans from across the country in this call to service.

We must act because our history demands it. We must act because our heritage is being diminished. I speak, of course, of the effects of the signing of the treaties between our various tribal nations and the U.S. government....

Before these treaties... The children were allowed to dream and grow based on the cultural and traditional virtues and values they were taught. These virtues and values were based on service to the entire tribal nation...

...I hope that on National Day of Service, many in our community will
offer time and support. And I hope they will take President-elect Obama’s call to make this an ongoing effort to heart. If we all commit ourselves, we can better our community and fulfill those dreams. Every dream has a passion and every passion has its destiny.

I hope you'll read the article, as my few examples truncated it horribly. I think the line, "Every dream has a passion and every passion has its destiny is one of my new favorite quotes though. Mills also gives a few examples of his own service, and places to go to find out how to volunteer, including: .

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