Having fought in several key battles during the Revolutionary War, the Oneida Nation became known as the United State’s first allies.

Continuing this long-standing commitment to the United States Armed Forces, the Oneida Indian Nation honored Veterans from across Central New York. Employees and Nation Members were among the 400 guests at the 17th Annual Oneida Indian Nation Veterans Recognition Ceremony and Breakfast held at Turning Stone on Nov. 4.

The event commemorates men and women that serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces and acknowledges heroes lost in combat. Many U.S. Vets who served during recent conflicts in the Middle East were in attendance, as were others that served in Korea and Vietnam. Eight Veterans from World War II were also in attendance.

Keynote speaker 10th Mountain Division Commander Major General Walter Piatt shared his personal story of service as well as the stories of family, community and fellow Veterans who together were the inspiration that led him to join the Armed Forces.

Gen. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander highlighted the Nation’s significant alliance with the United States in his speech. He spoke of Polly Cooper’s service and heroism traveling from Oneida Homelands to Valley Forge to bring Gen. George Washington’s starving troops hundreds of bushels of white corn during the Revolutionary War. He also acknowledged the Oneidas’ service at the Battle of Oriskany in 1777, a significant turning point in the American Revolution that prevented British troops from isolating the New England region.

“The Oneida Nation’s early commitment was absolutely necessary,” Gen. Piatt said. “Without the Oneida Nation, who knows if it would have turned out as it did.”

10th Mountain Division Commander Major General Piatt Addresses Veterans
at 17th Annual Oneida Nation Veterans Recognition Ceremony

The native of Somerset, PA shared his personal story of service with everyone in the room. Piatt enlisted in the Army out of high school in 1979 and served as an Infantryman for four years. After an extensive education that included a fellowship with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service and two Master’s degrees in Military Science and Military History from Lock Haven University, he served with the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum from 1999-2003 and later returned to the same division to serve as the DCG-S from 2012-2013.

Piatt told stories of his father’s service and of a fellow Officer’s compassion and connection with children in a northern Iraqi school who lost his life. It was family, community and fellow Veterans that were the driving force for Piatt to join the Armed Forces.

“People like my dad and [fellow Officer] Alex fought so we could be free,” Piatt said in closing. “And there’s no greater honor than to serve and protect this nation in my hometown.”