St. Peter Indian Mission School hosts Annual Run for the Fallen
Gila River Indian News
Over 400 people were in attendance at this year’s Run for the Fallen event hosted by Saint Peter Indian Mission School at their campus in District 5 – Bapchule, where school students and staff, Community members, Gila River Indian Community leadership and special guest Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs honored GRIC service men on Friday, Oct. 27.
The annual event pays tribute to those who have lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces, by running one-mile to honor and remember each fallen hero, which also recognizes the Community’s long-standing history of honorable service GRIC members have made for their Community and Country.
“On behalf of the St. Peter School community, we welcome you to this celebration in which we honor, bless, thank and pray for the families of our fallen heroes,” said Sister Mary Martha.
Images and background information of the 24 fallen heroes were posted along the school’s courtyard while students began the ceremony with the posting of colors conducted by the school’s military culture appreciation class, which typically includes only male students but this year young women also joined in to lead color guard duties. All students proceeded to sing the national anthem, both O’otham and English, followed by the school’s culture class who sang and performed traditional songs and dance as special tribute to the fallen and their families.
“I think that the participation of the children at the school is so important, exposing them to the service and sacrifice and patriotism; I’m very happy to be able to participate today,” said Arizona Gov. Hobbs.
In addition to the event, families of the fallen are also acknowledged by bestowing them with the Arizona Gold Star Military Medal, as a symbol of appreciation and recognition of the honorable service and sacrifices they have made.
This year recognized U.S. Army Private Matthew B. Juan, who was the first Arizonan to be killed in action during World War I, U.S. Army Private First-Class Lloyd Miguel, and U.S. Army Private First-Class Harry Miguel, both serving in the Korean War. Juan was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal.
“Everyone here today knows all too well that the history of Indigenous people has often been forgotten and sometimes altogether left out,” said Lt. Gov. Monica Antone, “By honoring Matthew today and holding this ceremony, we recognize our fallen heroes from the Gila River Indian Community and shed light to their stories that have often been kept in the dark.”
During the event, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis announced and signed a proclamation on behalf of the Community, declaring Oct. 27, 2023 as a day of remembrance for Private Matthew B. Juan, PFC Harry Miguel, and PFC Lloyd Miguel.
“On this day, the Community acknowledges our fallen heroes for their courage as we ensure their ultimate sacrifices are remembered, honored, and their families supported during this day of remembrance,” said Gov. Lewis, who thanked the families for allowing their loved ones to be honored.
GRIC Veteran Gary Anderson, U.S. Army Special Forces, served as master of ceremonies for the event. Anderson worked to begin the process of requesting and obtaining the medals for the fallen, along with the support of Veteran & Family Services Office and the Community’s Enrollment Dept. who assisted in finding the family members.
“It was such an honor to be invited today to participate in this event where we have the chance to present honor to some families who have been waiting for it for a very long time, to honor the service of these men,” said Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, who presented the Arizona Gold Star medal to the families.