I come from a family with a long history of military service. My father was a WWI veteran with the U.S. Army (17th Cavalry) under Commander Lieutenant Patton. My brothers were in WWII and the Korean War respectively. My Uncle James Maloney was a WWII Navajo Code Talker with the U.S. Marines
My name is Merritt Youngdeer. I’m a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina. My grandparents, like many tribal members from all across our country, attended Carlisle Indian Boarding School.
I grew up greatly admiring all those who have served in the Armed Forces. I knew that many Native Americans (including my father and uncles) had served this country with distinct honor and fulfilled their call of duty.
The year was 1934, and I was six months old. My father, mother, and I lived in a small settlement in the foothills of the mountains 100 miles northwest of San Carlos. Our home was a wickiup that my father had built for us.
In Psalm 119:9 we see a question posed by the Psalmist: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” Is it important to stay pure? How can we stay pure in an impure world?
Life wasn’t easy for me. There were temptations and troubles in my home. There were tears and sorrows in my heart, and my pride was very hurt by my failures. But I tried to keep faith in the Indian religion of my fathers.