It's been 20 years since Arizona lost U.S. Army Spc. Lori Piestewa in combat. To honor her sacrifice, the Gold Star Families, Tribal organizations, and others will host events this week.
The Gold Star Families Dinner Reception take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at Holy Trinity Cathedral Community Center, 1973 E. Maryland Ave., Phoenix. The reception is a military-themed event with the presentation of the colors, the anthem, and the pledge.
Retired Marine Marcus Chischilly will give a motivational speech to veterans and Gold Star families, and Gold Star families will receive special recognition.
Piestewa Fallen Heroes Sunrise Service occurs from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., Thursday, March 23, at Piestewa Peak, Ocotillo Ramada. This event bears special significance to Lori Piestewa as it was at sunrise on March 23, 2003, when she and her comrades were ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq, 20 years ago. (Due to limited parking, please park at Lincoln Heights Christian Church, 2121 E. Lincoln Drive, Phoenix, and take the shuttle up the mountain.)
The Sunrise Service will offer unique elements, including:
A white riderless horse bearing Hopi cultural symbols will be led by a Native American women veteran and a Gold Star family member on horseback to the site of the memorial sunrise (Ocotillo Ramada) for the National Anthem and posting of colors by 20 honor guard units.
Jessica Lynch will march with the Native American Women Warriors Honor Guard wearing the jingle dress she wore standing in for Lori Piestewa's honorary induction into the group in 2014. The dress has been hanging in Lori Piestewa's honor room at the family residence in Flagstaff.
The Arizona Director of the National Guard, Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, will provide keynote comments.
The chairman of the Hopi Nation, Timothy Nuvangyaoma, and the newly elected president of the Navajo Nation, Buu Nygren, will describe the impact of Lori Piestewa's death on their communities and Indian Country.
Two Hopi ladies will sing the National Anthem in the Hopi language.
Former Miss Navajo Nation Radmilla Cody will perform two songs in Navajo in honor of warriors.
Elvis Robinson and the Phoenix Oyate drum singers will perform the Native American Flag Song and the Brave Indian Woman Soldier Warrior song for Lori Piestewa and our women warriors in the Lakota language. The Phoenix Oyate has been a cornerstone of the Piestewa memorials since its beginning.
The Wear Blue Run to Remember Piestewa will occur at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23 at the Ocotillo Ramada at Piestewa Peak. Brigadier General Jason Roueshhoff will be the guest speaker.
The run honors 177 women warriors that have died in combat since 9/11.