Montana State University Billings students, faculty, staff — as well as Billings community members — will join again this Veterans Day to construct a medicine wheel to honor veterans as well as American Indian college students.
The event is set for Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 11:30 a.m. just outside the Liberal Arts Building on the MSU Billings university campus. The event is free and open to anyone.
The ceremony is both patriotic and cultural, said Reno Charette, the director of American Indian Outreach at MSU Billings. In its fourth year, the MSU Billings Veterans Medicine Wheel ceremony serves as a reminder to all at the university about the importance of service.
Serving a dual purpose of honoring American Indian students as well as Montana veterans, those who participate reflect on the sacrifices other make. Participants are asked to place a rock in the medicine wheel circle to represent someone they know who has served in the military or a student who has made a sacrifice to attend college. Names and service ranks of veterans are put on the stones.
Special guests this year will be family members of U.S. Army Pfc. Josh Peppers, a Northern Cheyenne man who is a scout for the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, 4-73rd Cavalry Regiment and a Purple Heart recipient. He was wounded last summer while on patrol in the Afghanistan province of Kandahar.
Other guests will be members of the American Legion Post 117, who will be on hand to place small flags around the medicine wheel in honor of Montana veterans.
“We would like all veterans and their family members to join us,” Charette said, noting the event shows how much the university respects veterans. “We want to make sure every single stone has a name on it.”
Charette says the wheel — which typically stays in place into December — is a symbol of the American Indian presence at the university while also providing an opportunity to recognize the cultural strength that supports the success of our students.