Friday, December 16, 2011

Rug Show Moments 2011 - Veterans Ceremony

by John Aldrich

The Veterans Ceremony on Sunday morning remains one of the most moving parts of the rug show. This year's event was no exception. We have been honored to have a Navajo Code Talker at the majority of ceremonies in recent years. Because  of their advancing age and dwindling numbers it has become a challenge to find one who can make the journey to Park City for the event.

This year Howard and Beverly Benally answered the challenge by inviting Raymond Smith Jr. of Lupton, Arizona. Raymond is a veteran himself and the son of Code Talker Raymond Smith Sr., who passed away several years ago.

Here is Raymond with his wife Theresa and daughter Savannah:

And here is Raymond with Beverly and Howard:

The ceremony began with the stirring drumming and singing of the White Lake drum group:

- combined with the entrance of the colors:

Rhonda Duvall once again offered her inspiring rendition of the national anthem in Navajo:

- which was followed by Raymond's talk:

Raymond combined reminiscences of his own military career with others about his father. The Navajo are a very patriotic people which strikes many as a contradiction in view their past treatment by the U.S. Government and the army in particular. As a group the Code Talkers have been modestly unassuming about their key role in World War II, often not even discussing it among their own family.

From Raymond's talk we understand that his father was a man of great integrity, and a man in whose footsteps his son tries to walk. Integrity is a value we all need to embrace in our modern world.

Following Raymond's talk we had the prayers of the traditional Elders for all veterans and active military, and in closing, each of the veterans attending the ceremony was individually honored.

There were many vets in the audience, but to the best of my knowledge, this friend of LaRee White-Engel was the only one in full uniform:

The final photo shows Rhonda again in her beautiful dress and jewelry:

We express our gratitude to Howard and Beverly for orchestrating this moving event.


  1. Thank you for all the great photos and comments about the rug show...

  2. Great to see the veterans being remembered.